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Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Research documents racism in Poland

Over 400 racist incidents have been catalogued by campaigners against xenophobia in a so-called Brown Book 2009-2010, released this week.

Physical attacks on non-white men and women are amongst the crimes included in the document, as well as the racist rhetoric of football fans and the vandalism of sacred sites.

The research was carried out by the anti-fascist magazine Nigdy Wiecej (Never Again), and the Monitoring Centre on Racism in Eastern Europe.

“The Brown Book proves how big a problem racism, neo-fascism and anti-Semitism still are in Poland, ” claims Nigdy Wiecej editor-in-chief Marcin Kornak.

As it is, a considerable portion of the crimes described in the book were carried out by neo-fascist and extreme right factions but some were on the spur of the moment incidents, says the report.

“Nigger [czarnuch] get out of Poland,” a citizen from Ghana was told in January 2009, as he was beaten up by a 27-year-old Pole in Wroclaw, reports the Gazeta Wyborcza daily.

Likewise, in March 2009, a dark-skinned Swedish woman was hit in the face by three men in a shopping mall in Bialystok. According to reports, security from a Media Markt branch adjacent to the crime scene failed to come to the aid of the Swedish medicine student.

Graffiti in Jewish cemeteries, including inscriptions such as “Jews in the oven because that's where your place is,” are still common in Poland, claims the research.

Radio Maryja
Anti-Semitic remarks have also been recorded on the far-right Radio Marya, station, says the report, echoing old stereotypes that the Jews are collectively responsible for imposing communism on Poland. One listener in a phone-in programme apparently described a former MP from the Civic Platform party as a “Jewish-Communist Platform clown”, to which the presenter replied, “you use strong words, but they are justified.”

Besides incidents relating to Jews and blacks, the book also highlights some incidences of anti-German and anti-Ukrainian abuse.

But the problem is not just with the usual suspects of anti-Semites and the far-right in general. In Poland, throw-away racists quips can also be heard on mainstream media.

Last month, popular chat show host Kuba Wojewodzki made a series of jokes about a Nigerian contestant on his show on the private TVN station, remarking that the guest had “eaten a white woman”.

The ‘joke’ echoes a remark Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski made shortly after the election of Barack Obama as US president. Right wing MEP Ryszard Czarnecki, quoted on his blog back in 2008 the foreign minister as saying: "Have you heard that Obama may have a Polish connection? His grandfather ate a Polish missionary."

A spokesman for the Polish foreign office said that Sikorski was merely giving examples of the sort of remarks that can be heard about the new US president.

"Mr Sikorski did not tell a racist joke," ministry spokesman Piotr Paszkowski said at the time. "He was only giving an example of the unpalatable and racist 'jokes' that surround President Obama."

The News Pl