Is the UK a racist country?

Xenophobia in Britain: "Go back to your fucking land"


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The Mamuśka! in the center of London is a typical hip big city restaurant. Customers order their food at the aluminum-clad counter and then sit down at one of the simple, functional wooden tables. The furnishings and lighting are modern. Customers pick up the finished meal themselves from the hatch to the kitchen a few meters away.

The owners Paulina and Ian Coll have adopted the "Fast Casual" concept, which in Germany is mainly known from the Vapiano restaurants. Instead of pizza or pasta, Pierogi and Kotlet Schabowy, Kielbasa and Chłodnik are on the menu. The kitchen is Polish and the shop is always full.

"We were actually planning to open branches across the UK," says Paulina Coll. She came to London from Poland 16 years ago. Five years ago she and her husband, who comes from Canada, opened their first restaurant together. "But then the Brexit referendum came and we just thought: Oh God." Now they would probably first expand into cities that mostly voted for Remain, such as Cambridge, Bristol and Edinburgh. An EU referendum as a yardstick for the acceptance of Polish cuisine.

For many EU citizens who live and work in the UK, everyday life has changed radically: the number of reported hate crimes has skyrocketed since mid-June - a week before the referendum. By the middle of this month, the police had registered almost 6,200 incidents, a fifth more than in the same period last year. That's more than 200 a day. The most common occurrences include insults and threats. Often people have also been spat at and attacked.

The hatred of Muslims and EU citizens from Eastern Europe is strikingly often discharged. In Plymouth, strangers burned down the gazebo of a Polish family, leaving a message that read: "Go back to your f *** ing land. Next time it will be your family." In Hammersmith, London, strangers smeared the doors of a Polish community center with insults. Again and again, the tirades of hate are accompanied by requests to leave the country. After all, the British would have voted to leave the EU.

Mamuśka too! experienced such an incident. "A man with a clear English accent called in the middle of business hours and said, 'Isn't it great that you Poles have to go home now,'" says Ian Coll. The employee who took the call was also Pole, but grew up in South London. In the broadest southern German English, he was able to stand up to the caller: "He asked him if he had nothing better to do on a Friday evening than to make such a ridiculous phone call."

Racism is becoming socially acceptable

Critics are convinced that the politicians who campaigned for an exit from the EU are responsible for the increase in xenophobic incidents. Only a few days ago, the member of the House of Lords and former vice-chairman of the Conservative Party, Sayeeda Warsi, accused leading Leave politicians of having created the current social climate in which racist attacks are part of everyday life with their negative campaign aimed at immigration. "I was already repelled by the racism of the 1970s and 1980s, which was open and aggressive. But I preferred that to this new form of socially acceptable xenophobia that is practiced by political, journalistic and academic circles," Warsi said Guardian.

The Leave campaigners - especially current Secretary of State Boris Johnson - have created a climate in which people find it acceptable to tell members of long-established communities, "It is time for you to go."