Portuguese students offered protection in Poland after racist attack

A group of 15 Portuguese students on the Erasmus+ exchange programme is under the protection of bodyguards following a racist attack in a town in the southeast of Poland.

According to Público, it is very possible that the youngsters will be cutting their stay short and coming home, as they “fear for their safety” in Poland.

The problem centres on some of the students in the group looking dark and foreign. They have been mistaken for muslim migrants, explained a police source.

The first attack took place when the group was out for a night on the town. A Polish fighter returned from Afghanistan took exception to an 18-year-old, pulling his hair and clothes and calling him “rubbish”.

Similar incidents followed over the next few days – with local people insulting members of the group and making rude gestures – to the point that the youngsters are now accompanied by bodyguards whenever they go out.

Said their teacher Stanislaw Augustine: “As a polish citizen I am ashamed that people from other countries have been direct targets for racist comments. Polish students were warmly and thoughtfully received in Portugal and then Portuguese students come here and these things happen”.

The youngsters, who arrived in the town of Rzeszow on April 3, have had to leave the hostel in which they were billeted and are now living in a private house on the town’s outskirts.

The Portuguese Consulate is aware of the situation and providing support, while Público explains that “various international organisations have warned of the increase in racism and xenophobia in Poland”.

The party of Law and Justice that won the last elections has been hugely critical of the entry into Europe of migrants, to the point that its leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski claims muslims “threaten the catholic style of life in the country”.

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