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Opinion – The Rise of Islamophobia in Poland

A 2017 Pew Research Center research discovered solely round 10,000 Muslims residing in Poland in 2016, and fewer than 10,000 had utilized for asylum as refugees from the Center East. As of October 2019, Muslims made up lower than 0.1% of the Polish inhabitants. Nonetheless, regardless of Muslims comprising an infinitesimal proportion of Poland’s inhabitants and immigration, the federal government has been outspoken in stoking Islamophobia. Based on Polish MEP Dominic Tarczynski, who spoke to Aljazeera on this matter , there’s a worry amongst Polish folks that Poland could possibly be “taken over by Muslims” within the close to future. By labeling Muslims a safety and cultural menace and pursuing aggressive deportation insurance policies, the Polish authorities has capitalized on anti-migrant sentiment among the many Polish public to gas a xenophobic and civilizationist coverage agenda that politically advantages the ruling right-wing Legislation and Justice Social gathering (PiS) now, however might current issues for Poland’s future.

In 2015, whereas the remainder of the world watched in horror as ISIS and the Syrian Civil Warfare raged throughout the Center East, PiS noticed what turned out to be an especially profitable political alternative. The 2015 European refugee crisis was instrumental in PiS’s rise to energy. In Might 2015, the European Commission’s European Agenda on Migration instructed Poland to simply accept 1,000 refugees.  4 months later, that quantity had risen to 9,000. PiS, then the opposition get together, shortly exploited the quickly rising variety of refugee candidates to Poland for political achieve. Heading into the October 2015 elections, future PiS Prime Minister Beata Szydlo derided Middle Eastern refugee acceptances as an try for Europe to “export the issues” of different nations to Poland which might threaten the nation’s Catholic id and nationwide safety.

PiS has not modified its place on Muslim immigration a lot since, as proven by newer rhetoric from PiS officers like Tarczynski. This isn’t shocking, since such an “unprecedented politicization of migration” achieved sustained success: PiS received management of Poland’s parliament (the Sejm) and presidency in these 2015 elections and has retained control ever since; the aforementioned Pew study confirmed that 60% of Polish respondents considered Center Jap and Muslim refugees as a “main menace,” and a Brookings Institution survey reported that 92% of voters who voted for PiS in 2018 opposed admitting such refugees outright.

The Polish authorities has a lot carried out extra than simply verbal resistance. In 2016, shortly after PiS got here to energy, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, referring to a potential nationwide safety menace following main terrorist assaults in Brussels in March, cancelled all the aforementioned EU-directed Center Jap refugee resettlement plans stating that there was “no chance at the moment of immigrants coming to Poland.” Voters strongly supported PiS on this transfer. A 2017 poll found that over half of its respondents (51%) would quite see Poland go away the EU quite than settle for Muslim refugees. Since 2016, Poland has persistently continued to defy the EU by refusing to resettle refugees, which finally led to the nation being found in violation of EU law in 2020 by the European Court of Justice and being doubtlessly liable to fines levied by the European Fee.

Along with overtly rejecting EU migrant doctrine, PiS has additionally handed laws and proposed coverage to construct on standard Islamophobia and additional Muslim exclusion. In 2016, quickly after the Brussels assaults, Poland also passed an anti-terrorism law permits the nation’s Inside Safety Company (ISA) to apprehend and expel any foreigner suspected (not even convicted) of participating in terrorism or espionage. Unsurprisingly, the legislation’s enforcement has been “particularly centered on Muslim immigrants.” 

In 2019, PiS released a new migration policy document that labeled immigrants from Muslim nations as “potential threats each to the safety of the nation and to Polish tradition.” The doc also stated that Muslims have been “incapable of integrating” into Western society and admitting them into Poland would result in a “civilizational battle” between Christian, Western tradition and “the Islamic Challenge” of imposing their faith on the world. Once more, this narrative of competing, mutually unique non secular programs, even when the Muslim inhabitants is negligible, resonates among the Polish public, particularly the best wing.

Whatever the authorities’s rhetoric and its function in mainstreaming xenophobia, Poland wants immigrants. Xenophobia in nationwide immigration coverage is by no means unique to Poland, however Poland’s particular standing as one of the fastest growing economies in Europe calls for a versatile and dynamic inhabitants. Low birthrates and ageing inhabitants are causing a demographic crisis that’s beginning to constrain Poland’s economic system. That is largely why the Polish authorities admitted over 2 million Christian Ukrainians; their labor in Poland’s city areas is vital for financial development. Nonetheless, this development has led to extra capability and vacancies that employers merely have been unable to fill, which contributed to Poland having one of the lowest unemployment rates in the EU previous to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moreover, public sentiment in the direction of immigrants of all religions seems to be altering; regardless of exclusionary PiS insurance policies, data from Gallup’s Migration Acceptance Index from 2016 on 2019 present a p.c enhance second solely to Lithuania amongst EU states. In different phrases, Poland is warming as much as immigrants quicker than nearly wherever within the EU, though Poland remains to be far behind many different EU states in whole index rating. Maybe the financial wants for elevated immigration and altering public opinion will lastly usher in some tolerance for Muslim immigrants within the close to future.

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