A WORLD OF NEIGHBOURS

Poland’s spoonful of sugar for bitter anti-refugee rhetoric

We voice what is hurting, says Karol Wilczyński, one of the founders of Islamista.

Anna and Karol Wilczyński during the international conference Rethinking Islam co-organised by them in Cracow, Poland in 2019. The conference gathered experts and practitioners on the issues of Islam and migration and was aimed at discussing the current issues of social integration and diversity. Anna and Karol Wilczyński during the international conference Rethinking Islam co-organised by them in Cracow, Poland in 2019. The conference gathered experts and practitioners on the issues of Islam and migration and was aimed at discussing the current issues of social integration and diversity. (Source: Klaudia Kaszyca)

In the southeastern Polish city of Rzeszów, a woman is pushing her baby son in a pram down the street when an aggressive man tries to push the pram over, yelling “Heil, Hitler!” and “white power”. He even makes death threats against the Polish woman, who is wearing a hijab, and her son. There are several passers-by, but no one comes to the victims’ defense.

This incident occurred on August 2, 2019, one day after the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, when the Polish underground resistance, led by the Home Army, liberated Warsaw from German occupation. On that day, Poles fought against hate, against racism and religious discrimination, advocating for the inclusive and democratic Poland they envisioned.

“We reported on [this incident] in Poland and there were lots and lots of vulgar comments on both sides - not just people who were attacking the victim but also from people who were attacking the attacker,” said Anna Wilczyńska, a friend of the Rzeszów victim.

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Together with her husband Karol Wilczyński, Wilczyńska co-founded Islamista, a blog on Islam, where they also report on incidents like these in which Muslims, refugees and other minorities in Poland are attacked, mistreated or underrepresented.

“We always voice what is hurting. We do not try to hide it inside us; we always speak out,” said Wilczyński, who lives in Krakow with Wilczyńska.

By the spoonful

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