WARSAW, Poland – A right-wing Polish magazine cover emblazoned with the headline “The Islamic rape of Europe” triggered a storm of criticism on social media Thursday, with some comments comparing it to World War II fascist propaganda.
The cover of the news weekly “w Sieci” (In the net) showed a posed photo of a blue-eyed blonde woman, wrapped in an EU flag, looking terrified as she is groped by hairy-armed men.
The magazine said the cover referred to a rash of sexual assaults against hundreds of women, allegedly by men of North African and Arab origin, during New Year’s Eve celebrations in the German city of Cologne.
But the publication drew fierce criticism on Twitter, with one user comparing it to what they described as a World War II-era Italian fascist propaganda poster vilifying Africans.
Another Twitter user said the “sick cover” was fear-mongering.
“‘Islamic rape of Europe’, screams Polish magazine. They obviously forget Nazi depictions of Poles in the 1930s,” said one Twitter user.
“w Sieci” makes no secret of its support for Poland’s new right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) government.
At the end of 2015, it had a circulation of 76,000, a decline of 1.16 percent over 2014, according to the specialist website press.pl.
In the category of news weeklies, it lay a distant third, with the top-selling title, Newsweek Polska, selling 120,000.
The populist PiS won an unprecedented majority in October’s general election campaigning on an anti-migrant platform, among other issues.
Party leader and ex-premier Jaroslaw Kaczynski played up migrant fears before election day by claiming refugees were bringing “cholera to the Greek islands, dysentery to Vienna, various types of parasites” in comments that critics said recalled the Nazi era.
The PiS government been among the staunchest opponents of an European Union quota plan to distribute refugees across the bloc.
Surveys show a majority of Poles share this view.