Nobody fears refugees like Hungarians do

July 12, 2016


Hungarians are the most fearful of refugees among European nations, according to a survey conducted by the prestigious Pew Research Center.


When asked whether they think refugees increase the likelihood of terrorism in their country, 76 percent of Hungarians said ‘yes.’ In comparison, 40 percent of Spaniards had the same opinion even though – unlike Hungary – their country has been targeted by terrorists before.

Economic burden

Terrorism is not the only concern people have about refugees. Many are also worried that refugees will become an economic burden. Half or more in five nations say refugees will take away jobs and social benefits. Hungarians lead the pack with 82 percent identifying this as their greatest concern. (Remember the Hungarian government repeating the phrase: migrants will take away our jobs?)

Poles, Greeks, Italians and French are also worried for their jobs, while Sweden and Germany are the only countries where at least half say refugees make their nation stronger because of their work and talents.

Fears linking refugees and crime are much less pervasive, although nearly half in Italy and Sweden say refugees are more to blame for crime than other groups. The percentage of Hungarians thinking the same is 43.

Negative attitude

Most of the recent refugees to Europe are arriving from majority-Muslim nations, such as Syria and Iraq. Among Europeans, perceptions of refugees are influenced in part by negative attitudes toward Muslims already living in Europe. In Hungary, Italy, Poland and Greece, more than six-in-ten say they have an unfavorable opinion of the Muslims in their country — an opinion shared by at least one-in-four in each nation polled.


In every country polled, the dominant view is that Muslims want to be distinct from the rest of society rather than adopt the nation’s customs and way of life. Six-in-ten or more hold this view in Greece, Hungary, Spain, Italy and Germany. Notably, the percentage saying that Muslims want to remain distinct has actually declined since 2005 in four out of five countries where trend data is available. The biggest drop has been in Germany, where the share of the public expressing this view has declined from 88% to 61%.

For the record, Muslims are not the only minority group viewed unfavorably by substantial percentages of Europeans. In fact, overall, attitudes toward Roma are more negative than attitudes toward Muslims. In Hungary, 64 percent of people view Roma people in a negative way, which is less than in the case of Muslims (72%) but more than Jews (32%).


The whole survey can be read on the homepage of Pew Research Center.