Before explaining my views on this topic, please be aware that I am not classifying all my friends into one group, when i write the word 'Polish people’.
The change in attitude of Polish people towards foreign minorities
A week ago in Wrocław, there was an incident, where one foreigner of Indian descent was beaten up by three Polish men near a very busy spot in the city center. This news was picked up by many well know polish newspapers, tabloids and was even a topic of discussion on facebook pages.
I came to know about this incident through a friend. Even though we don’t keep in touch very much, he wrote me a message which sounded like this ‘ Jay, i heard about an attack on an Indian national in Wrocław. Please tell me everything is ok, and it was not concerning You’. I wrote him back that everything is ok and i am safe & healthy. He replied me back ”uff, thats better.” I was shocked to know that some one who has zero contact with me, was sincerely worried about my well being. Two other friends, also took time to ask me personally if everything is ok, and if i was involved in any such incident or not. It is very humbling that a few friends care about my safety and were worried if anything happened to me.
Now this post is not meant to show Poland in a bad light. I am just going to explain what changes i have seen happening in the polish society through out the years i have been living in Wrocław.
During 2009 when i came to Poland, there were much less foreigners in Wrocław than now. There were foreign students, mostly people from Russia, Ukraine, some foreigners from previous USSR countries, students from Africa, and a few Indians and Chinese people. The general atmosphere was calm. People were very curious about foreigners back then. They were amazed that people are coming to visit Poland, and chose Poland to study and to live etc. There was amazement in people’s eyes. This continued for a couple of years.
Soon in 2016, Europe was in the middle of the refugee crisis. Once the war broke out in Syria, and people started migrating by masses to Europe, countries like Italy, Spain and Germany were flooded with immigrants. Since those countries were unable to handle the flow of immigrants, refugees were requested to be displaced into countries like Poland, Czech republic. Then came the real change….
We all know about problems associated with displacement of 100’s of thousands of foreigners, and theft, and other petty crimes which many commit in these countries(maybe due to hunger? I don’t know). Many countries like Poland and Czech republic were not willing to accept these immigrants. In 2016, when the news of immigrant influx into Italy and turkey was out, a lot of news channels picked up the story and they were showing videos of atrocities committed by them, 24/7 on the television. If I went to a coffee shop, or a pizza place, the news flash would be about the crimes committed by the immigrants. At this point leaving house was a little bit uncomfortable. I started getting stares from strangers on the road. A couple of young guys told me to f*** off from Poland. I stopped and asked them what is the matter. They just asked me to go away… Thinking whether this is actually happening in Poland made it even worse. I couldn’t take my mind of this topic for some time. I didn’t make a big deal out of it then. After all I am a guest in this country. Besides, attracting sympathy from friends and strangers seemed a little bit cheesy for me. So i kept most of it to myself.
This period of ‘fear of the unknown’ continued for about a couple of years. From time to time, there were news about a couple of foreigners getting beaten up in the city centre or in some other parts of the town. But every country has its own good and bad people right?
What is disturbing for me is the message passed on by the ruling government. A strong line has to be drawn, when the ruling government is creating fear among its citizens. I will share a small example with You. The ruling government published a message on their official fan page(Twitter, facebook? i don’t remember) that the organisers of the festival Przystanek Woodstock, have invited 100s of immigrants to Woodstock and they are a possible cause of danger for the polish society, and might spread deadly diseases. Isn’t that misleading? if the government passes on such messages, wouldn’t the public be forced to believe them?
The reason why the Indian national was beaten up was supposedly because the perpetrators thought he looked like an Arab. Arabs = Muslims = refugees right? The problem is not whether he was Arab or not. The problem is when the people in power pass on misleading information to the public. The policy seems to be creating fear in the masses., dividing them into groups, which would make it easy to rule those people.
I am not suggesting that Poland should accept immigrants or not( i would write about it in another post). Absolutely! It is a matter of safety and concern for every Polish citizen living in this country. I wouldn’t want to interfere in this matter.
At the present moment I am very cautious when I am out and about after 10 pm. Sometimes I am even a little bit over conscious of what is going on around me. When ever i see a guy who looks like a ‘guy from the hood’, I am automatically assuming the worst. I dont know what to think about it. Maybe it is me who is thinking too much? I hope this phase will pass once and for all.