Many people in the seven European Union nations surveyed express negative views about minority groups in their country, according to Pew Research published on May 12. In particular, negative attitudes toward Roma (sometimes also known as Gypsies) are common, while many also give Muslims unfavourable ratings. Negative attitudes toward Jews are less pervasive. Negative sentiments about all three groups are consistently more common among people on the ideological right.
At least half of those surveyed in Italy, Greece and Poland say they have a negative opinion of the Muslims who live in their country. Public opinion is divided on this question in Spain, while in Germany and the UK a majority says they have positive views of Muslims. The most favourable ratings are registered in France (72% favourable), which among the seven nations surveyed has the highest percentage of Muslims in the national population.
As is the case with attitudes toward Roma, views about Muslims are tied to ideology. While 47% of Germans on the political right give Muslims an unfavourable rating, just 20% on the left do so. The gap between left and right is also more than 20 percentage points in France, Italy and Greece. And significant differences are found in Spain and the UK as well.
Attitudes are also linked to age, with negative sentiments more pervasive among older respondents. In Spain, about half of those age 50 and older (51%) give Muslims in their country an unfavourable rating; only a third of people under age 30 say the same. Significant differences between people 50 and older and 18- to 29-year-olds are also found in France (a gap of 12 percentage points), Germany (13 points), Italy (12 points) and the UK (9 points).