A Polish anti-racism NGO said Wednesday that it has filed several dozen hate speech complaints with prosecutors after a spike in racial posts by Polish internet users against members of France’s winning World Cup team.
“The comments insult the French football players due to the colour of their skin, comparing them to monkeys and using extremist racial epithets that are considered criminal in Poland,” Konrad Dulkowski, head of the Warsaw-based Center for Monitoring Racist and Xenophobic Behavior, told AFP.
Hate speech carries a penalty of up to three years behind bars under article 257 of Poland’s criminal code. Prosecutors have a month to decide whether they will launch investigations into the complaints.
The organisation has filed over 30 complaints so far and plans to file dozens more in the coming weeks, Dulkowski said.
There were “thousands” of racist posts linked to the World Cup, but “not all meet the formal legal criteria required for prosecution,” he added.
“Social media users began to send us links to hate speech posts right after the World Cup final on Sunday. Then we began to monitor football-related internet sites in Poland.
“We found racist and hate speech posts under each news item,” he said, adding that there had been a similar spike in racially based hate speech after Poland lost to Senegal in the group stage of the World Cup on June 19th.
Rights groups in EU member Poland have warned that a spike in racist rhetoric and behaviour has coincided with the rightwing, nationalist agenda pursued by the Law and Justice (PiS) government since it took office in 2015.