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President of Poland asks church leaders to protect Poles living in the UK

Polish president Andrzej Duda is concerned by the recent rise in xenophobic attacks (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has written to church leaders in Britain asking them to counter “intolerance and xenophobia” exposed in attacks on Poles living there.

Duda said his letters to the heads of the Catholic Church and the Church in England in Britain were in support of the Polish government’s efforts to obtain better protection for the hundreds of thousands of Poles living in Britain.

Since Britain voted leave the European Union, there has been an increase in reports of hostile acts against Poles.

Last week, a 40-year-old Pole, Arkadiusz Jozwik, died after he was beaten by teenagers in Harlow, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of London.

Another Pole was injured in the attack, which British police are investigating as a possible hate crime. Two other Poles were beaten in Harlow on Sunday following a march in protest of Jozwik’s death.

In his letters to the Archbishop of Canterbury and to Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Duda said such incidents can potentially create a divide between Poles and British people.

He pleaded for a “constructive effort” from church communities and local parishes to “alleviate the adverse consequences of intolerance and xenophobia, including what appears to be a clear instance of aversion and animosity toward Poles.”

He argued that Poles living in the United Kingdom work “strenuously” and are contributing to Britain’s welfare.

Poland’s foreign and interior ministers met with their counterparts in London on Monday to seek better security for the Poles, who they said integrate well into society and duly pay taxes.