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Treatment of Minorities

Treatment of Minorities

The main minority and ethnic groups in Spain are migrants, Roma and Muslims. Although there is a Jewish community in Spain, it is small (about 40,000 members). Public attitudes towards these groups can be measured through various surveys and studies conducted by the Spanish Center for Sociological Research (CIS, Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas) as well as other global or regional surveys, such as the EU Barometer or the Pew Research survey. According to the most recent CIS survey on discrimination in 2016, 58% of the Spanish population would like to live in society with people of different ethnic origin, culture or religion (compared to 53.1% in 2013), while 33.7% said they would like to live in society with most people of the same origin, culture and religion (compared to 39% in 2013).

Spanish citizens tend to be open-minded about migrants, especially compared to other European countries. At the same time, Eurobarometer published in April 2018 (with data from October 2017) the results of its survey, which showed that Spaniards overestimate the number of immigrants living in Spain: overall, respondents estimated that 23.2% of the Spanish population are immigrants, while the real percentage is only 8.8%.

Some international surveys also reflect Spanish attitudes toward migrants. For example, a 2018 Pew Research survey on attitudes toward migrants in different countries found that 56% of the population in Spain saw migrants as a support for the country (up from 47% in 2014), while 37% saw them as a burden. Similarly, a report published by the ODI think tank for 2020 showed that 28% of those surveyed say more migrants should be allowed to move to Spain, 30% think there should be fewer, and 39% say the same. It is worth noting that of the European countries surveyed, Spain is the country with the higher percentage that says it wants more immigration and the country with the lower percentage that says there should be fewer.

One of the most recent surveys about discrimination and intolerance against Muslims in Spain was published in November 2020. The survey focused on the views of government agencies, associations and NGOs about the attitudes and prejudices of the Spanish population toward Muslims. The survey asked about groups that are less sympathetic in Spain. Respondents felt that Roma and Muslims were the less sympathetic groups, while Jews were one of the groups for which the population had higher feelings of favorable treatment (although even then, positive attitudes toward them were not high). It should be emphasized that respondents believe that in Spain, people in general would be strongly opposed to the opening of a mosque and would feel uncomfortable in the presence of a woman wearing a veil or in the presence of Muslims in their neighborhood. Similarly, half of respondents felt that Spanish families would not want Muslim children in their children's classrooms. Similarly, the most recent CIS study on discrimination, conducted in 2016, found that Roma are the population group that would least want children in their neighborhood. Thus, only 51.6 percent expressed that they would be comfortable. In the case of Muslims, that percentage was 63.1%.

Less optimistic data are given by a "Pew Research" study, which was done in October 2019. According to that study, only 54% of Spaniards feel good about Muslims, while 42% have negative feelings. That's better, though, compared to 2016, when the negative sentiment was 50%. Interestingly, 59% of these people vote for the right-wing VOX party.

As for attitudes toward Jews, data from the same study show that 76% of those surveyed have positive feelings about Jews and only 19% are strongly opposed. And people with a higher level of education tend to have more positive attitudes than people with a lower level of education, although the majority at both levels appear to hold positive views. The Eurobarometer study found that only 3 percent of those surveyed said they would be uncomfortable with a Jewish colleague at work, 6 percent were moderately comfortable, and a majority of 86 percent were comfortable.

According to the "Pew Research" study already mentioned, 57% of Spaniards have a positive attitude toward Roma, while 40% have an unequivocally negative attitude toward them. This figure is much better than it was in 2016. According to Eurobarometer, 65% of respondents believe that discrimination against Roma is widespread in Spain, with 21% believing that they would feel uncomfortable if their children had Roma classmates.

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