NPR

Hungary Has A Xenophobia Problem

Just 10 percent of Hungarians polled say they feel totally comfortable making friends with an immigrant. In a survey, Hungarians even rejected a group that doesn't exist.
Ibrar Hussein Mirzai, an 18-year-old Afghan, has received asylum in Hungary and hopes to eventually gain Hungarian citizenship. He is aware that Hungarians don't like refugees. "I am a normal person just like them," he says. Source: Joanna Kakissis for NPR

Our series "Take A Number" looks at problems around the world — and the people trying to solve them — through the lens of a single number. Today's number: 10 — that's the percentage of Hungarians who feel "totally comfortable" having an immigrant as a friend.

Every day at noon, Ibrar Hussein Mirzai hears the cathedral bells as he leaves his intensive Hungarian-language class in the small, leafy town of Fót, just north of Hungary's capital Budapest.

The 18-year-old Afghan refugee says he finds the sound almost as relaxing as the devotional Sufi qawwali music he grew up listening to in Quetta, Pakistan, where his family settled after fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"I learn the language to go to university and after that to live a normal life," says Mirzai. "Living in a safe place, having a job, having your family with you. This is what a normal life means to me."

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