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Xenophobia skyrocketing in Hungary, surveys reveal

Since it has been assessed, xenophobia in Hungary has never been as high as it is today, Hungarian online news portal index.hu reported today based on two separate surveys. This comes after a massive campaign by the Hungarian government against “migrants” prior to the October referendum on the EU’s planned refugee quotas, which ended as invalid.

According to data collected by the Tárki Social Research Institute in October, some 58% of Hungarians currently appear to be xenophobic. Tárki has measured xenophobia in Hungary for the past 25 years.

A separate survey by Závecz Research, commissioned by index.hu, found that the Roma (Gypsy) minority is no longer the most rejected in the country, but Arabs - this despite the fact that, since the Hungarian government raised a fence along the countryʼs southern border, refugees have bypassed Hungary for more than a year now. 

According to Tárki data, before 2012 some 30% of Hungarians were seen to be xenophobic, a figure which grew to around 40% by 2015. In a single year, the ratio of Hungarians believed to be xenophobic based on research data has soared to a record 58%.

Tárki places respondents into three major groups: xenophobic, xenophile (attracted to foreign cultures), and undecided. When Tárki first assessed Hungarians on the issue in 1992, some 73% of respondents said they were undecided, 15% claimed to be xenophobic, and 12% xenophile. By today, according to the latest Tárki data, the ratio of undecided has dropped to 43% (from last year’s 53%) and the number of xenophiles has dropped to just 1% (from last year’s 6%), while the number of xenophobes has risen to 58% (from last year’s 41%).

Interestingly, when Hungary made international headlines a year ago as refugees were trapped in and around Budapest’s Keleti Railway Station, the number of undecided grew, and not the two extreme responses. Endre Sík of Tárki said back then that “the ratio of those holding extreme opinions on either side dropped due to a ‘realpolitik’ way of thinking,” index.hu noted.

According to index.hu, xenophobia saw a hike in Hungary when the refugees had disappeared and the campaign against “migrants” by the Hungarian government accelerated. The Hungarian portal observes that this tendency is a well-known one, as “faceless aliens” are rejected and feared more easily than real people seen suffering.

Almost at the same time Tárki assessed the publicʼs mood, index.hu commissioned Závecz Research to ask Hungarians, by the end of the quota referendum, whether they would accept minorities as neighbors. The findings of Závecz showed that Arabs were the most strongly rejected. Only 21% of respondents said they would accept Arabs as their neighbors, while 32% would accept Roma, 35% Christian refugees from Syria, 45% homosexuals, 47% Chinese, 50% Americans, 51% African university students, 57% Jews, 60% rock musicians, and 76% ethnic Hungarian immigrants from Transylvania in Romania, index.hu reported.