Over half of Poland’s young people access anti-Semitic Internet sites that praise Hitler and Nazism, the Fox News website reported, citing a Warsaw University study.
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The results of the survey were presented to the Polish parliament earlier this month, reviving attention to hate speech legislation and sparking concern among members of the small remaining Polish Jewish community.
The survey, which was conducted by the Warsaw University Center for Research on Prejudice, also found that 14 percent of the survey participants acknowledged that racist hate speech was common in Poland.
Fully 21 percent of young people polled and 19 percent of Polish adult participants in the survey opposed the banning of hate speech, however. “What is most important for me is that so many young people accept hate speech,” the center’s director, Michael Bilewicz, told FoxNews.com in a telephone interview.
“In fact, more than adults. And the young are the future of Poland.” Bilewicz said the courts in Poland are failing to enforce laws against hate speech, which in turn makes the problem worse. “Judges must maintain the fine balance between protecting free speech and banning rhetoric designed to incite hate,” he said.
Bilewicz, who co-authored the study and is an assistant professor at Warsaw University, said that the poll surveyed 653 Polish young people between the ages of 16 and 18 and also polled a group of 1,007 adults.
“Contrary to what might be expected, it is the young who often display anti-democratic and xenophobic attitudes on a mass scale today,” Rafal Pankowsi, a political science professor at Warsaw’s Collegium Civitas, said.
But Holocaust survivor Sigmund Rolat, a major benefactor of the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews, countered that, as he sees it, Jews live a safer existence and are more well-accepted in Poland than in Western Europe. The new opinion survey, the report says, overly emphasized the views of a bigoted minority.
But an earlier survey of Warsaw high school students also seems to reflect substantial prejudice against Jews on the part of Polish young people. The poll, released in April by the same Warsaw University institute, found that 44 percent of the students did not even want a Jewish neighbor.