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Polish prime minister to ask voters if they accept "thousands of illegal immigrants"

Poland's prime minister plans to hold a referendum asking voters if they are willing to accept "thousands of illegal immigrants from the Middle East and Africa," as his party attempts to hold onto power at the next election.

Mateusz Morawiecki announced the referendum would be held on the same day as the country's parliamentary elections in October of this year.

The referendum question was revealed in a video published on Morawiecki's social media pages. It includes scenes of burning cars and other street violence in Western Europe. It also features footage of a Black man licking a knife in apparent anticipation of committing a crime. Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski then says: "Do you want this to happen in Poland as well? Do you want to cease being masters of your own country?"

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Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on June 2, 2022.  Michal Dyjuk/AP

The timing of the proposed referendum suggests the current prime minister's party will be using migration as a topic of campaigning ahead of the polling scheduled for Oct. 15.

The ruling Law and Justice Party has long defended the restriction on immigration from Muslim and African countries. However, Poland currently hosts more than a million Ukrainian refugees, who are primarily White and Christian, but some officials have previously made clear that they consider Muslims and others from different cultures to be a threat to the nation's cultural identity and security.

EU interior ministers in June endorsed a plan to share out responsibility for migrants entering Europe without authorization, the root of one of the bloc's longest-running political crises.

Europe's asylum system collapsed eight years ago after well over a million people entered the bloc — most of them fleeing conflict in Syria — and overwhelmed reception capacities in Greece and Italy, in the process sparking one of the EU's biggest political crises.

The 27 EU nations have bickered ever since over which countries should take responsibility for people arriving without authorization, and whether other members should be obliged to help them cope.

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