New Series of Maps Reflects High Levels of Czech Xenophobia

Lending some context to all those red spots – where does Czech discrimination toward foreigners originate?

In 2015, in an attempt to measure the depth of discrimination in European Union countries, the European Commission asked EU citizens how comfortable they would feel if their child began a romantic relationship with a person outside of their race, culture, or religion.

That data has been re-released in map form by Reddit user Bezzelford. The maps suggest, once again, that the Czech Republic is among the most xenophobic nations in the EU.

Over 1,000 Czechs were interviewed for the study; see the original EU data fact sheet in English here.

Photo: @Bezzelford/Reddit
Photo: @Bezzelford/Reddit

Aside from questions about dating, the survey also asked participants how they would feel working with various minority groups including (including gays, lesbians, transgender people, Roma, and Muslims).

Over 50 percent of Czechs said that they would not feel comfortable with a Roma or Muslim colleague.

The survey asked people if they would feel comfortable having a person from a different ethnic origin than the majority of the country fill the highest elected political position.

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Fifty-two percent of Czechs said they would feel “totally uncomfortable,” while over fifty percent of Czechs said that a job candidate’s skin color or ethnic origin put them at a disadvantage despite equal skills and qualifications.

Photo: @Bezzelford/Reddit
Photo: @Bezzelford/Reddit

More than half of the Czechs interviewed acknowledged that discrimination based on ethnic origin was “widespread” in their country.

But while the maps tend to confirm the long-held belief that foreigner phobia is typically high in post-Communist states, they also show that Czechs are less tolerant than many of their former Soviet bloc neighbors including Poland and Hungary.

Incidents like this not to mention the recent backlash over the country’s anti-immigrant stance tend to enhance the already widespread perception of the prevalence of racism in the Czech Republic.

Photo: @Bezzelford/Reddit
Photo: @Bezzelford/Reddit

So what do all those glaring red marks actually tell us about Czechs and discrimination and should one take the maps at face value?

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A number of sociologists have made the argument that the country’s isolation under totalitarianism is the reason for its lingering prejudice.

Others would argue, however, that his explanation overlooks the fact that the Soviet regime did welcome certain groups of foreigners, namely Vietnamese and Cubans.

Photo: @Bezzelford/Reddit
Photo: @Bezzelford/Reddit

An older study sheds some light on the history of Czechs and xenophobia, saying that the Czech xenophobia has social and cultural roots, rather than ethnic ones.

Another explanation given by the study is the Marxist doctrine of the time, which, with its stress on class antagonism, hatred and struggle, left little space for developing friendly relations with foreigners.

The provocatively titled article How to Learn Hatred for Poor Romani People seeks to explain the attitude toward the Czech Republic’s most vilified ethnic group. 

These resources as well our Do Czechs Hate Foreigners Series, can put the maps into more context by helping navigate the murky waters of race relations in the Czech Republic.

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