A pedestrian walks past the Polish Social and Cultural Association after graffiti was painted on the side of the building calling on Poles to leave the United Kingdom, in Hammersmith, London, Britain June 27, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Attacks on Muslims and poles in wake of Brexit ; UK vows action

LONDON: Polish and Muslim leaders in Britain expressed concern on Monday after a spate of racially motivated hate crimes following last week’s vote to leave the European Union in which immigration was widely regarded as a key factor in the outcome.
Police said offensive leaflets targeting Poles had been distributed in a town in central England, and graffiti had been daubed on a Polish cultural centre in London on Sunday, three days after the vote.
Meanwhile, Islamic groups said there had been a sharp rise in incidents against Muslims since last Friday, many of which were directly linked to the decision for a British exit, or Brexit.
Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the attacks in parliament. “In the past few days we have seen despicable graffiti daubed on a Polish community centre, we’ve seen verbal abuse hurled against individuals because they are members of ethnic minorities,” he said. “We will not stand for hate crime or these kinds of attacks. They must be stamped out,” he added.
The Polish embassy in London said in a statement it was shocked and deeply concerned by the xenophobic abuse and Poland’s foreign affairs minister Witold Waszczykowski said he had discussed the issue with David Lidington, Britain’s Europe Minister.
Immigration emerged as one of the key themes of the EU referendum campaign, with those who backed a British exit arguing membership of the bloc had allowed uncontrolled numbers of migrants to come to Britain from eastern Europe.
There has been a large Polish community in Britain since World War Two and that number has grown after Poland joined the EU in 2004.
There are about 790,000 Poles living in Britain according to official figures from 2014, the second-largest overseas-born population in the country after those from India.
Cambridgeshire Police said they were investigating after offensive leaflets were left on cars and delivered to homes in Huntingdon. According to the local paper, the Cambridge News, the cards, which had a Polish translation, read: “Leave the EU/No more Polish vermin”.
At the Polish Social and Cultural Association in London, which opened in 1974 and is home to the majority of Britain’s Polish organisations, graffiti was painted on the side of the building calling on Poles to leave the United Kingdom.
“This is an outrageous act that disgusts not only me and the Polish community but everyone in Hammersmith & Fulham,” local lawmaker Andy Slaughter said on Twitter.
The Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella group for many of the organisations which represent the country’s 2.7 million Muslims, said more than 100 hate crimes had been reported since the result of the referendum. Agencies