A possible hate crime against Poles in Britain has prompted officials in Warsaw to react to what seems to be a post-Brexit surge in such crimes in the country.
Two Polish men were injured outside a pub in Harlow, Essex, on Sunday following a vigil held for another Pole murdered late last month.
Since the June 23 referendum in which Britons opted for an exit from the European Union, there has been an upsurge in the hate crime reported across the country.
The latest attack, which took place outside a pub in the early hours of the day, left one of the men with a broken nose and another with cut to the head.
It followed the death of 40-year-old Arkadiusz Jozwik (pictured below), a factory worker in the town, who was heard speaking his native language before being killed, apparently by a group of teenagers.
“He was standing eating pizza and they picked on him because of that. He does not speak much English. The young teenagers are so aggressive,” his brother, Radek, told the Guardian on Tuesday. “One of the teenagers started and then seconds later there are 10 or 12 people attacking him.”
A second Polish man survived with police not ruling out that the attack might be a hate crime.
Saturday’s assault prompted a response from Polish officials announcing that three ministers will visit Britain to deal with the issue.
“In connection with the recent incidents targeting Polish citizens in Britain, the following ministers are planning an urgent trip to London: Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro and Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak,” Polish foreign ministry spokesman Rafal Sobczak told media.
“We’re counting on the British government and authorities responsible for the safety of British and European citizens, including Poles, to prevent the kind of xenophobic acts we’ve seen recently,” he said in comments following a meeting with Johnson. “So I hope the government and security services will make sure there are no manifestations of xenophobia in Britain.”
The British foreign secretary, however, described London as a city with no room for xenophobia, calling on more Poles to enter Britain.
“London is the most welcoming, multicultural, happening city on earth – no disrespect to Warsaw – and there is no room for xenophobia,” Johnson said.
During a visit to a British Council language school in Warsaw earlier, he said, “Some of them [the students] were as young as eight. We look forward to welcoming them to Britain in a few years’ time.”