By Daniel Tilles
Just like the Brexit campaigners, Poland’s own ruling party has been guilty of stoking resentment of outsiders, with the result that xenophobes have been emboldened and hate crimes have increased. The danger of leading the country in such a direction should be even clearer now that Poles themselves are falling victim to precisely such rhetoric in Britain, writes Daniel Tilles.
Since Friday’s announcement that the UK had voted to leave the EU, there has been a wave of hate crimes against immigrants in Britain. At this early stage, most of the evidence is anecdotal. But what appears absolutely clear is that the Brexit vote – which was motivated in large part by a desire to reduce immigration – has given xenophobes greater confidence to express their views publicly. Continue reading
This recent article contains some pretty brazen duplicity, even by the standards of the Daily Mail.
The newspaper has been at the forefront of a campaign by the British right-wing tabloid press over the last few years to portray immigrants from new EU countries – particularly Poles, who make up the largest group – as ‘benefit tourists’, coming to Britain not to work but to claim social welfare. (The Daily Express and the Sun also deserve special mention, the latter of which rather amusingly had to admit its dishonesty.) Continue reading
By Daniel Tilles
By apparently agreeing to David Cameron’s proposal to restrict benefits for EU migrants in the UK, Poland’s government has made a dramatic reversal on its earlier declarations that it would never accept such discrimination against Polish citizens. Daniel Tilles asks whether this U-turn is the result of a pragmatic compromise or if, instead, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has used the rights of its countrymen as bargaining chip to gain concessions from the British that advance its own political agenda.
As I’ve written in these pages previously, a particular concern in Britain stemming from the unprecedented wave of immigration during the last decade has been over ‘benefit tourism’: the idea that some migrants are coming not to work, but to take advantage of the country’s generous welfare system. Such accusations have been directed in particular against Poles, who make up the largest group among recent European immigrants and who, as EU citizens, are legally entitled to receive benefits on the same basis as British natives. Continue reading
By Daniel Tilles
Daniel Tilles analyses the intense recent debate in the Polish media over Europe’s current refugee crisis. In this Catholic, conservative and ethnically homogeneous country, disagreement has focused in particular on the dissonance between a Christian duty to help the needy and a desire to defend national culture and identity against the perceived threat of Muslim immigration. He examines the views of a range of Polish outlets from across the ideological spectrum, including Rzeczpospolita, Gazeta Wyborcza, Polityka, Newsweek Polska, Fronda and Tygodnik Powszechny.
As across all of Europe, media discourse in Poland has been dominated recently by the growing refugee crisis on the continent. This is despite the fact that Poland itself has barely been touched by the issue directly. There has been an increase in the number of illegal immigrants detained in Poland this year (including growing numbers from the Middle East and Africa, in the addition to the usual Ukrainians), but the figures pale into insignificance against the experience of countries, such as Hungary, Italy or Germany, that are along the main migration paths. Continue reading