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AD28: Mauritians welcome ethnic/religious diversity but are less tolerant of homosexuals and people living with HIV/AIDS

L. Amédée Darga and Gilles Joomun 15 Apr 2015 Mauritius
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Key findings
  • Mauritians express a strong sense of national identity; only 9% identify more strongly with their ethnic group than with their country
  • A majority (54%) of Mauritians say the government treats their ethnic/cultural group unfairly. This feeling is especially strong among Creoles, Tamils, and Muslims.
  • Two-thirds of Mauritians (68%) would not mind having people of different religions or ethnic groups as neighbours, and 58% would not mind living near immigrants or foreign workers.
  • Almost half (46%) of respondents would not like to have people with HIV/AIDS as neighbours. More than half (51%) express the same intolerance for people who are homosexual.

Despite their multiplicity of ethnic/cultural (European, African, Indian, Chinese) and religious (Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist) backgrounds, Mauritians have experienced few incidents of ethnic or religious violence. The last major incident dates back to 1999, when the popular Creole musician Kaya was found dead whilst in police custody, triggering riots against the mostly Hindu police and fights between Creoles and Hindus. Since then, the country has lived in relative harmony through three successive national elections.

The latest Afrobarometer survey confirms Mauritians’ acceptance of the multi-ethnic and multicultural character of their country, marked by a strong national identity in spite of significant perceptions of unfair treatment of their ethnic or cultural groups.

A majority of Mauritians express tolerance for ethnic and religious diversity and do not exhibit xenophobic attitudes toward immigrants or foreign workers. But they show less tolerance for people living with HIV/AIDS and homosexuals.

L. Amédée Darga

L. Amédée Darga is the Afrobarometer national investigator in Mauritius.

Gilles Joomun

Gilles Joomun is a consultant for StraConsult Ltd, the Mauritius Afrobarometer national partner in Port Louis.