Muslim schoolgirls report racial abuse while on trip in Poland
A group of mostly Muslim schoolgirls from Germany have said that they experienced racial abuse from locals while visiting Holocaust memorials in Poland.
The girls from the Theodor Heuss Community School in Berlin-Moabit said locals threatened them, assaulted them and discriminated against them during the trip.
Speaking to Deutschlandfunk radio, one girl said that a man spat on her in the street in Lublin while police stood by and did nothing.
One of the other girls said she was told to leave a shop because she was speaking Persian on the phone.
The girl told the radio station, "They came up to me and said 'Can you leave? You're disturbing the people here.' And I thought: Why? Just because I'm speaking Persian and I'm a foreigner? Yes."
In another incident, the girls said that a market stall refused to sell them water because they were foreign.
One girl reported being threatened with a knife, while another said that a woman in Lodz threw her drink over the girl and shouted "Get out!"
Members of the school group reportedly spoke to two policemen about the incidents in English, but a statement from Lubin police said that they "heard from the people translating that there was no problem."
The statement added, "the trip participants did not report any complaints to Lublin police officers."
Police also claimed to have found no evidence of such incidents on CCTV footage.
A Holocaust memorial body based in Germany, the House of the Wannsee Conference, had organized the trip to inform the girls about the horrors of the Holocaust and also the hardships experienced by Poles during the German occupation.
The memorial body's director Hans-Christian Jasch said, "I'm especially shocked that this happened to youngsters in our care on this trip - indeed, on a trip dedicated to studying this very topic [racism]. Of course that's particularly sad."
The incidents come in the context of a growing number of hate crimes against Muslims in Poland, with the Polish National Prosecutor's Office saying that anti-Muslim attacks in 2016 almost doubled compared with the previous year.