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Monday , December 6 2021

Britain vows action after racist attacks – Polish, Muslim leaders express concern

LONDON, June 28, (Agencies): Polish and Muslim leaders in Britain expressed concern on Monday after a spate of racially motivated hate crimes following last week’s vote to leave the European Union in which immigration was widely regarded as a key factor in the outcome. Police said offensive leaflets targeting Poles had been distributed in a town in central England, and graffiti had been daubed on a Polish cultural centre in London on Sunday, three days after the vote.

Meanwhile, Islamic groups said there had been a sharp rise in incidents against Muslims since last Friday, many of which were directly linked to the decision for a British exit, or Brexit. Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the attacks in parliament and said he had spoken to the Polish counterpart Beata Szydlo to express his concern and to reassure her Poles in Britain would be protected.

“In the past few days we have seen despicable graffiti daubed on a Polish community centre, we’ve seen verbal abuse hurled against individuals because they are members of ethnic minorities,” Cameron said. “We will not stand for hate crime or these kinds of attacks. They must be stamped out,” he added.

Immigration emerged as one of the key themes of the EU referendum campaign, with those who backed a British exit arguing membership of the bloc had allowed uncontrolled numbers of migrants to come to Britain from eastern Europe.

A few days before the vote, Sayeeda Warsi, a former minister in Cameron’s ruling Conservative Party, quit the Brexit campaign accusing it of spreading lies, hatred and xenophobia. There has been a large Polish community in Britain since World War Two and that number has grown after Poland joined the EU in 2004.

There are about 790,000 Poles living in Britain according to official figures from 2014, the second-largest overseas-born population in the country after those from India. Cambridgeshire Police said they were investigating after offensive leaflets were left on cars and delivered to homes in Huntingdon. According to the local paper, the Cambridge News, the cards, which had a Polish translation, read: “Leave the EU/No more Polish vermin”. M

eanwhile, an Eastern European family in Rugby finds dog excrement shoved through its mailbox. A Londoner nearly gets into a fight over drunken slurs shouted on a crowded subway car. A Polish teenager in Gloucestershire is taunted with threats of deportation at her high school.

In the wake of last Thursday’s vote to leave the European Union, Britain has seen a surge in xenophobia expressed in taunts, threats and worse.

For many, foreign- and native-born, the UK has suddenly become much scarier place. “Before Friday we lived in a tolerant society,” said Oana Gorcea, a 32-year-old Romanian who has lived in Britain since she was a teenager. “I’ve been here 13 years, but I’ve never felt like I had to hide where I came from. But from Friday, things completely changed.”

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