Polish Catholics say 'No' to Pope Francis' plea: 'Today refugees, tomorrow terrorists'

A protester from a far right organisation holds up a sign which reads 'Islam Stop' during a protest against refugees in Lodz, Poland, on Sept. 12, 2015.Reuters

Pope Francis has called on people from all over the world to open their hearts and homes to the hundreds of thousands of Middle East and African refugees who have fled their homeland and are now pouring into Europe desperately in need of food, clothing, and shelter Europe.

However, it looks like Catholics in Poland, the homeland of former Pope John Paul II, are not warming up to the pope's appeal.

According to Fox News, Polish Catholics are concerned that the influx of Muslim refugees will threaten their country's security and economy.

"On the question of taking in immigrants, Pope Francis is wrong," Jaroslaw Gowin, a prominent Catholic politician said on Friday. "In no case should we take in Muslims," he said, adding that Poland should only welcome migrants who are ready to abide by the rules of life in Poland.

Thousands of Poles have been holding rallies in different cities of their country to oppose the move to take in refugees from Syria. Around 10,000 nationalists and radical right-wingers marched through downtown Warsaw over the weekend waving their national white and red flags, all the while chanting "Today refugees, tomorrow terrorists!" and "Poland, free of Islam!"

The rally was relatively peaceful even as protesters lighted flares that spread smoke. But the police, fully clad in riot gear simply looked over them as they made their protest.

"The refugees are threat to our culture, they will not assimilate with our society," marcher Miroslaw Kadziela told CTV News.

However, not all Poles reject the idea of taking in refugees. Hundreds of Polish nationals also held a "Refugees, Welcome" rally in a different part of Warsaw, as well as in Gdansk, Krakow, Poznan and Szczecin also over the weekend.

One of the refugee supporters is Lech Walesa, the leader of the Solidarity freedom movement in the 1980s. He said he is more than willing to host refugees under his own roof and would even cook for them, provided his wife agrees.

The European Union has requested that Poland accept 12,000 migrants, with Warsaw taking on 2,000 refugees within two years, provided that they are able to prove that they are really refugees fleeing the war in Syria and not economic migrants.