PRAGUE—With xenophobia spiraling across the former communist states of Central Europe, the region’s one sizable non-white and non-Christian immigrant community is unflustered, for now. Constituting around 1 percent of the Czech Republic’s population of 10 million, the country’s decades-old Vietnamese community is largely tolerated and respected, even if integration is limited.
That situation remains mostly unchanged by the recent political shift to the right in the Czech Republic. Many Czechs view the Vietnamese community—officially 60,000-strong but estimated to actually number around 100,000—in stark contrast to Muslim immigrants—around 20,000 or so—and the much larger and long-ostracized Roma community.
“The Vietnamese community is not a target of the current xenophobic mood,” says Ondrej Klipa, an associate professor at Prague’s Charles University. “The Czechs see them playing the role of the ‘good immigrant’: hard-working, quiet and modest.” The subdued approach to Buddhism taken by many Vietnamese also mirrors the lukewarm Czech relationship with Christianity.