For some Britain will become an island of fear
When his friend Arek was killed on the street, Eric Hind saw a sad proof: his election home had changed. He had a bad feeling before the June referendum on the British exit from the European Union. In the increasingly heated debate over the place of Great Britain in Europe, he was unmistakably clarified that he was an outsider.
“When my landlord came back after a five-year stay in Spain before the referendum, he first asked me when I was going back to Poland. And he said he would vote for the exit, “says Hind.
«Wann fährt dein Bus nach Hause?»
The now 33-year-old was one of hundreds of thousands of Poles who took advantage of the opportunity to move to Great Britain after the eastward enlargement of the EU in 2004? Into an open, welcoming country with a flexible labor market and relatively high wages. Today, twelve years later, he lives in Harlow near London, with a family and a good job.
After the vote on 23 June, he received SMS messages in the style of “When my bus leaves home, whether I have my passport and good luck in Poland”.
Free movement between Member States is a key principle in the EU, many Europeans make use of it. They study and work abroad or settle down there. Britain’s vote for the EU exit came after an “exit” campaign, which called for “to take control again” and it is partly a rejection of this ideal of limitlessness.
It has at the same time brought about a wave of open xenophobia, reporting insults and physical attacks, such as groups of observers. Much of this is directed against Eastern Europeans who have come to the island in droves over the last decade, especially against the Poles, with one million in Great Britain the largest group.
“Polish” has become a disparaging word, says Suresh Grover of the Monitoring Group, a welfare organization that deals with victims of hate crimes. But not only Eastern Europeans are in the sights: “We have cases of Germans, Italians and Frenchmen. The victims are people who speak a different language. »
Clear rise in racist or religiously motivated offense
British ethnic minorities also report off-cuts against them. The anti-migrant tenor of the Brexit debate had “legitimized unacceptable forms of racism, which I thought would never exist again,” says Grover. “We have cases where the N-word is used repeatedly.