Czech Republic: Romea.cz survey on Romani people and Islam
After the attacks on the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, Muslims are becoming more and more a target for intolerance and racism in the Czech Republic, a position long occupied by Romani people. How do Romani people in the Czech Republic experience coexistence with Muslims and what is their relationship toward Islam?
News server Romea.cz has conducted a survey of Romani opinion asking the following three questions:
- Are you concerned about the influence of Islam on our culture?
- Do you agree with the Czech Republic taking in several thousand refugees from Syria?
- Would it bother you to have a Muslim as a neighbor?
The vast majority of responses we received were absolutely positive when it came to relations with Muslims. The survey, however, cannot be considered representative, which is why we also did our best to learn more from other public opinion surveys and the experience of sociologists.
For example, the Center for Public Opinion Research (CVVM) surveyed public opinion on the settlement of foreigners in the Czech Republic last March. Jan Červenka, a CVVM analyst, and Kamila Burešová, an analyst with the Center for Empirical Research (STEM), confirmed to us that investigations like these do not ask for respondents' ethnicity or nationality, which means it is impossible to learn whether Romani respondents were surveyed and how they responded.
"It's been more than 15 years since we asked respondents whether they are Romani, and we only did that when ethnicity was relevant to the topic being researched. We are not planning to do any targeted research among Romani people in the near future," Burešová told news server Romea.cz.
From the results of these sociological surveys in the Czech Republic, however, it can be seen that people who have a poor standard of living, have only achieved a primary education, and are unemployed have a more negative attitude toward foreigners. These are characteristics that apply to a large number of Romani people, so on average, according to this data, they should be less friendly toward foreigners.
However, Romani attitudes may be influenced by other factors, such as the fact that they themselves are a minority and also encounter discrimination. It is not possible to say to what degree such factors might influence Romani attitudes towards Muslims.
"That sounds logical, naturally, but we unfortunately cannot verify that from the data. That is why I would prefer to consider Romani people a sub-group of those respondents characterized by a poor standard of living, by having only achieved a primary education, and by unemployment," Burešová says.
Responses to the Romea.cz survey
Roman Lakatoš - KarvináI am not concerned about the influence of Islam on our culture, whether Czech or Romani culture. Rather, I would fear the influence of Czech and Romani culture on Islamic culture given the recent events that have triggered anti-Muslimism from one day to the next. Every person who wants to live a full-fledged life deserves the chance to do so, whether they are ordinary citizens from America, England, or the Netherlands or refugee from Syria. A Muslim neighbor would not bother me, nor would a neighbor who is Black, Hindu, Jewish, Romanian, etc. Ethnicity, nationality, religion, skin color, etc. should not influence people's interpersonal relationships.
Jan Cverčko - LiberecIslam cannot have any influence on Romani culture, because the Czechs are not France or Great Britain. Why shouldn't the Czech Republic accept Syrian refugees, that's an international obligation, isn't it? A Muslim neighbor would not bother me, because they are human beings. People, remember, if everyone starts behaving like animals, where will this world end up? No one sees that those who declare war on Islam do so for their own personal gain. Where is the world heading, where are the biggest superpowers heading when they just destroy innocent people?
Josef Duna – PardubiceThis is a very interesting survey, I will answer briefly and clearly. Every creature on this planet has the right to live where it suits them. As far as Muslims are concerned, they do not bother me personally, I am bothered by those who are opposed to them. Everyone has the right to live in the faith they subscribe to. If, of course, they murder other human beings in the name of their faith, then they no longer get the chance to live in a normal society. Every emigrant who settles in a foreign state must primarily respect the laws of that country.
Zdenek Karicka, Birmingham (Great Britain), originally from KadaňUnder no circumstances am I concerned about the influence of Islam on our culture. They follow their culture and customs and there is no reason for any concern. I agree with Europe receiving refugees from any country. If someone is fleeing their country, they have serious reasons to do so. I would rather have a Muslim neighbor than a racist one. I have Muslim friends who are very good people, they have nothing whatsoever to do with assassinations or similar situations.
Marie Gailová - PrahaAs long as a neighbor behaves respectably, I am not bothered. Islamic culture does not bother me, every human being has the right to their religion - including refugees. The Czechs and Germans also fled absurd regimes in the thousands.
Lýdia Kotlárová, Topoľčany (Slovakia)I do not live in the Czech Republic, but if I did, I would not be concerned about Muslims. There are rather a lot of them living in Slovakia, I even know Slovak women who have converted to the Muslim faith and have Slovak husbands. It's up to each human being what kind of religion to follow, as long as they don't hurt those around them. We, as Romani people, are a minority here and we want people from the majority to tolerate us, this is our home. Some of them, however, continue to let us know that we bother them, that they do not believe this is our home. Every human being should have a certain degree of tolerance, every single one of us. The Muslims in France are seen there like we Roma are here. I would not be concerned if I had a Muslim neighbor, everything is about tolerance, not nationality or religion.
Naděžda Vaňová Kováčová - PostoloprtyRecently I had the opportunity to see how some people from the majority are taking a stance on this, and it made me sick! They immediately began saying: "Hitler should get them and the Gypsies!" I would rather have a Muslim neighbor who won't be sending Hitler after me. In the past we even had Muslim neighbors and there was no problem with them. We respected their culture and they respected ours. That's what it's all about! You can't judge a whole group by a couple of pyschopaths. There are murderers like that all over the world, it's not so long ago that an American living in the Czech Republic murdered his entire family! You cannot judge innocent people based on other people's crimes, that way we'd have nothing in this world but a war against everyone. That way one day they'd be pushing everyone into the gas chambers because one person committed a crime.
Marcela Baloghová Čonková - KadaňI am not concerned about Muslim culture impacting our culture. I agree with the Czech Republic accepting Syrian refugees. It would not bother me to have a Muslim as a neighbor.
Pavel Botoš, Halifax (Great Britain)I am 45 years old and I have had the opportunity to live in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and now in Great Britain. I am not at all concerned about the influence of Islamic culture. I know (and I live in a multicultural country) that as long as there are no Islamophobic, nationalistic, xenophobic provocateurs around, [Muslims] are cool. This is my third year living among them and we have no problems with each other. If I could choose whether I want a neighbor from a Czech majority family or a respectable Muslim, I would definitely choose the Muslim family (until recently I was neighbors with one for about seven months). I am under no circumstances against refugees from Syria, because no one leaves their country without reason, and definitely not in such numbers. We Roma are also migrants and the vast majority of us have our own reasons.
Milan Husák - Benátky nad JizerouI do not believe the general judgment that terrorism is an outgrowth of Islam, just as I do not believe the Roma are a "work-shy people". This is one and the same propaganda getting people to pay attention to an invented enemy so they won't look at their real problems. I am not concerned about the influence of Islam on our culture because, on the contrary, I believe it could be even "better" in some respects than this whole celebrated cult of America. There is always something to learn from others. Just as we Roma can learn something from the gadje, the gadje could learn many good things from us. As Roma, we should accept the Syrian refugees. Who else can fully understand the feelings and the pain of the deported, of those dispersed around the globe, than we, who once were also refugees? I would do my best to get to know a Muslim neighbor, I think we might be much closer to one another on a human level than I would be with the gadje, and certainly it would be very interesting and enlightening for both of us. Also, from the perspective of the Christian faith we Roma follow, we are obliged to help foreign settlers. We Roma love to recall gadje who were good to us, and we should treat other immigrants the same way.
Božena Cinova Sidorka - Great BritainI will be 63 years old soon. I had the opportunity to live in eastern Slovakia in the town of Svidnik, where I was born. Since the age of eight I lived with my parents and siblings in the Czech Republic in the town of Most. I have gotten to know many people in the Czech Republic, I had many schoolmates. I gave birth to my five children in Most, all of them attended normal schools and also were apprenticed. My neighbors all said hello to me. However, with the rising intolerance against Romani people, things began to get extreme, and it has affected our family. My son, who was 17 years old at the time, was attacked by anti-Romani fanatics, who kicked him as he was lying on the ground. He had unbearable kidney pain and urinated blood for half a year afterward. I couldn't live in Most anymore after that. In Britain I have Muslim neighbors, people from Iraq and Kurds. We live here as friends and neighbors, I would prefer them to a Czech family. Children of various nationalities, including my grandchildren, go to school together here, it's super. I don't have anything against any other immigrants. We Roma are human beings who do not judge other ethnicities or nations. Yes, among us there are also folks who disagree with that, but most Roma are not bothered by anyone else.
Marek Ferenc - PrahaFor the time being I am not concerned about any influence on our "Romani" culture, but anything is possible in the Czech Republic. What I mean is that Czech citizens might try to ban our traditions or maybe even our native language - look at the "affair of the Muslim community in Chomutov". That is definitely having an influence on Czech culture. The Czech Republic is one of the most racist countries in the world. I absolutely agree with accepting Syrian refugees, I have nothing against refugees. Why? Because what if, for some unknown reasons, a war breaks out here from one day to the next, a war of the Czechs against the Roma or any other kind of war. Are those people, as individuals, to blame for that? They are not, so I don't see a problem with them seeking refuge in another country where there is no war and where they and their whole family will be safe. Certainly a Muslim neighbor would not bother me, my ex-girlfriend has one Muslim parent and regularly visits Tunisia.
Petr Olach - Ústí nad LabemI am not concerned that Muslim culture might influence our culture. People would never allow it. I am concerned that if we accept refugees we won't have anything to offer them when there is not enough housing or work here in the first place. Given the situation all over the world today, I am afraid, but not of Muslim neighbors - I am afraid the Czech state won't even accept long-settled Romani people living among the majority here, to say nothing of people from Syria. I am afraid of what might happen next.
Jana Horváthová - BrnoI think there is no reason to be concerned about Muslim culture influencing our culture. However, I know where your question is heading - I am concerned about Islamic fundamentalism, extremism and terrorism in general, just as I am concerned about the dictatorial regimes that use Islam as a cover. I cannot pass judgment on any specific numbers of Syrian refugees, I don't know what all must be prepared for such people and whether we are able to do it, but I unequivocally believe that we can accept more such refugees than the numbers approved according to the media. I am not a priori against having anyone as a neighbor.
Here are some of the negative contributions posted to the discussion about this survey on Facebook
"I am a Rom and I s*** on Islam. I would have to shoot them here for what they are doing, the c*****. I don't ever want to see them here. Gypsies, are you so stupid? Once Islam is in the Czech Republic, once their religion is here, then the Muslims will want to come here and then how are you going to get work? No one is going to hire us to work with the Muslims. Where are you going with this? Think a little bit." (Dante Příjemný Demetr).
"Muslims should be killed on sight. That is the worst religion. Demons, bombs. Not one step further. Chajale I feel sorry for you, the gypsies aren't enough for you" (David Žiga)
"I am also a minority, but my opinion is that not everyone everywhere has to help refugees from Syria - see Belgium and the example from Friday, when two refugees wanted to shoot the cops. Now there are soldiers in Antwerp and in Brussels too, so why help them if they can't be trusted? They just being the war here with them: Get them out of here!" (Janina Jana)
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