Poland-based foreigners shocked by hate speech
PR dla Zagranicy
A wave of racial slurs in Poland triggered by the mass migration of refugees from North Africa and the Middle East has left many longtime residents fearing for their safety.
Based in the country for nearly two decades, Elmi Abdi, member of the Somali Community in Poland, is now considering pulling up his roots. The Polish African is afraid of becoming a target of aggression from people associating his skin colour and Muslim religion with rape risk, terrorism or a threat on the labour market.
"I'm simply scared. Being linked [with these stereotypes], I'm frightened of walking in the street as I might be attacked for being a migrant," Abdi told Polish Radio's news agency IAR.
Heightened tension over several thousand asylum-seekers to be relocated to Poland has fuelled anti-immigrant sentiments, Zuzanna Rejmer, from the Polish Migration Forum says.
Oriental studies expert Katarzyna Górak-Sosnowska points to radically hostile views seeping into the media and the internet as chief factors contributing to a distorted image of refugees in Poland, shifting the nationwide debate to threats allegedly posed by Muslim foreigners seeking refuge in a predominantly Catholic Poland.
Such a rhetoric sidelines the key challenges posed by the migration, chiefly integration into Polish society, experts point out.
The warped portrayal of refugees falls on particularly fertile ground in Poland, where no more than 12 percent of citizens have met a Muslim face to face. (aba/rk)