Poland is Split over Refugees

Poland is Split over Refugees

Differing attitudes toward refugees have divided Polish society. On one hand, some Polish politicians and media are advocating for the unconditional acceptance of migrants. Demonstrations are held, with banners reading, «Refugees welcome» and «The question is not whether or not to help, but how». But on the other hand, a survey conducted by the Polish Public Opinion Research Center (CBOS) back in July showed that 86% of Poles disapprove of the increased migrant quota established for their country by Brussels.

After the Sept. 22 meeting of EU interior ministers, it was announced that Poland had agreed to accept a total of 7,200 refugees. That would not seem such a large number for a country with a population of almost 40 million, but that news got a heated reaction from the Polish public. All the more so, given the reports from unofficial sources claiming that at the EU interior ministers’ meeting, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, and Hungary all voted against the compulsory migrant quotas.

Polish politicians were faced with a difficult situation: they are unwilling to take a stand against the pressure coming from Brussels, which is insisting that refugees be admitted, but at the same time, they have to take into account their own conservative Polish electorate that was protesting the influx of strangers into their country.

Demonstrations protesting immigration in Poland are much larger than those staged by the organizations trying to welcome the Middle Eastern refugees. The marchers are united by rallying cries such as «Poles against immigrants», and «Warsaw is not Brussels, Islam is not supported here», and so on.

Demonstrators protesting the influx of migrants. The banner reads: «Islam is the death of Europe». Warsaw, Sept. 2, 2015

Some Polish intelligence agents such as Colonel Grzegorz Małecki have openly stated that Muslim immigrants are «fuel for extremists and radicals».

Even Polish Tatars have officially expressed their reluctance to accept Muslim immigrants, citing a «cultural schism» with their fellow followers of Islam. Selim Chazbijewicz, one of the founders of the Polish Union of Tatars (Związku Tatarów Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej) and the former imam for the Muslim community in Gdansk, has said, 


«The official stance of Poland’s Muslim Religious Union (Muzułmańskiego Związku Religijnego) is that we do not endorse the entry of immigrants. We believe that we lack the necessary funds and supportive environment. Perhaps the [Polish Catholic] Church has more money that could be used to reach these objectives, but we do not».

This mindset had a direct influence on the results of Poland’s parliamentary elections on Oct. 25, in which Jarosław Kaczyński’s Law and Justice party (PiS), garnered 37.58% of the vote, leading it to a crushing victory over the liberal Civic Platform party. The London edition of the Telegraph commented 

on the outcome of these elections, stating, «The EU recently forced Poland to accept a quota of Syrian refugees, something firmly against the wishes of the Polish people, who have now dismissed the government which accepted that quota. Poles want a government driven by Poland’s national interest, not a supranational project designed in Paris, Berlin and Brussels».

Over three and a half months prior to the parliamentary elections, a deputy in the Sejm from the Law and Justice party, Jan Dziedziczak, had some harsh words for the policy of the ruling Civic Platform party, as pertaining to the issue of refugees, «For over twenty years we have been unable to take in a handful of Poles from Kazakhstan. Ewa Kopacz [Poland’s current prime minister, who is preparing to step down – V. V.] previously blocked the debate over admitting these ethnic Poles from Kazakhstan, and now, when she is so directed by the EU, we are suddenly accepting some 2,000 Muslim immigrants [another group of 5,000 was later added to this initial 2,000 - V. V.]. Let the rich countries that colonized that region for hundreds of years [North Africa and the Middle East – V. V.] and used its wealth pay for it». And during his election campaign, Jarosław Kaczyński himself, abandoning any semblance of political correctness, warned that refugees would bring disease and parasites to Poland. And it worked.

One message posted on the Radio Olsztyn website could be an indicator of the prevailing post-election mood in Poland, claiming that the cities of the Warmia-Masuria Voivodeship (located in northern Poland, on the border with Russia’s Kaliningrad region) were refusing to accept refugees from Africa or the Middle East. On Oct. 27, 70 of the 116 municipalities of that province issued their response as to whether they would accept migrants. Only three of those replies were positive: one of the municipalities was willing to take a family with two children, and two others agreed to accept refugees, but only in the event of «special circumstances». The other municipalities all refused to admit migrants, citing insufficient funds, unemployment, and financial difficulties.