(Interviewed by Tenna Sørensen, outgoing placement officer at SCI Italia)

For several years, Hungary has again and again received international media attention regarding its big minority of Roma people and in particular its treatment of them. As part of CHAPTER’s final campaign, we spoke to Bálint Josá, activist and director of the organization UNITED for Intercultural Action, who commented on the situation of the Romas in Hungary. 

According to Mr. Josá, around two-thirds of the Roma population live under the poverty line, live in segregated areas and often experience police brutality while Hungary has no clear policy against this. 

If it comes to light and the media writes about an issues then the individual policemen gets sanctioned so there are consequences but there is no policy, which means that in many cases no one really notices and a clear racial profiling is taking place in Hungary”. 

Another issue is the segregated schools in Hungary. As Mr. Josá states, it is illegal to segregate Roma children from other children in Hungary. However, according to him, letting the directors of the schools create different classes such as A, B and C classes provides for a system in which they can categorize for example the C-classes as the Roma classes. In addition, it seems to be a habit within the specific schools districts for the officials to informally decide on which schools should be ‘segregated’ letting other schools decline the enrolment of Roma children. 

So you can grow up in a village knowing that there are Roma people in your village but not really meeting them in your life because the municipality treats them differently, the police keep them on track and you are not going to school with them”. 

The activist and director stresses that the treatment of the Roma communities is a sign of racism. He adds that the government opposition acts as if in support of the Roma population but only enough to not risk losing votes from the generally distrustful Hungarian population.


UNITED for Intercultural Action was founded in 1993 and has ever since been a large pan-European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants, refugees and minorities. Together with more than 560 supporter organizations around Europe – ranging from local grassroots associations to national and international NGOs, UNITED coordinates campaign, organizes conferences, takes part in projects, produces publications and undertakes advocacy work to protest against discrimination and promote their shared vision for a diverse and inclusive society. 

Visit UNITED for Intercultural Action’s website here: https://unitedfia.org/about-united/



(Interviewed by Tenna Sørensen, outgoing placement officer at SCI Italia)

During the last half century. Hungary has undergone a significant change regarding its approach to gender-related issues and the presence of LGTBQ+ communities in the country from quite liberal attitudes in the 70s to the complete opposite position today

As part of CHAPTER’s final campaign, we took the occasion to talk to Bálint Josá, activist and director of the organization UNITED for Intercultural Action. Read on here to hear his thoughts on his government’s approach to gender.  

The government is clearly violating human rights related to the LGBTQI issue. Formally, it was declared by many governmental or high-ranking persons that they are not friends of the LGTBQ+ community and the Ministry of Interior even stopped handing out permission of gender change and name changes” – argues Balint Josá. 

Mr. Josá stresses that there is no time limit for the Ministry of Interior to process applications for gender change so instead of declining such applications, the officials have simply stopped saying yes or no. This leaves applicants in a limbo with no applications accepted during the last years.  

Also the current COVID-19 situation has far from helped on this issue. According to Mr. Josá the pandemic-enforced state of emergency has allowed the government to freely carry out changes in the country’s regulations resulting in a legal ban on gender change.  Moreover, these changes have been implemented into the country’s constitution:

In [Hungary’s] constitution it is said that the mother is a woman, the father is a man and the unity of them fruited by a child is the definition of a family. So we have a constitution that is literally homophobic in terms of binary or alternatives to parenting”.

In continuation, the Hungarian law has adopted a special clause prohibiting anyone from visiting and talking about any alter-versions of gender in schools where children and youth are present. This includes not only transgender but also bi- and homosexuality. The law also entails a strong censorship prohibiting under-aged from watching any series, reading books or enjoying other pieces of cultural that – according to the decision-makers – do not comprise a ‘proper educational narrative’: 

 “It means that for example Netflix is now limited in Hungary by not allowing anything other than heterosexual relations to people under 18. There was also a storybook with 12 fairytales and three of them had alter-gender endings so the government banned these books from being within the limit of 200 meters from schools and churches. Also, any other so-called ‘gay propaganda’ was limited so not only about claiming that homosexuals are better but solely the portrayal of homosexuals in general”. 

According to Mr. Josá, this type of ‘cancellation-policy’ is clearly homophobic and an ongoing debate in Hungary, which has also received international legal attention and criticism within the EU. 


UNITED for Intercultural Action was founded in 1993 and has ever since been a large pan-European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants, refugees and minorities. Together with more than 560 supporter organizations around Europe – ranging from local grassroots associations to national and international NGOs, UNITED coordinates campaign, organizes conferences, takes part in projects, produces publications and undertakes advocacy work to protest against discrimination and promote their shared vision for a diverse and inclusive society. 

Visit UNITED for Intercultural Action’s website here: https://unitedfia.org/about-united/



(Interviewed by Tenna Sørensen, outgoing placement officer at SCI Italia)

Since 2014, Europe has been facing the worst humanitarian crisis of refugees in the aftertime of the Second World War with a majority of people fleeing from war-torn countries such as Syria and Libya. As a response to the influx of non-European refugees, countries all over Europe have ever since been tightening their migration policies – and the same goes for Hungary. 

As part of CHAPTER’s final campaign, we took the occasion to talk to Bálint Josá, activist and director of the organization UNITED for Intercultural Action, about the situation in his country. Read on here to learn why Hungary is the most migrant-unfriendly country in the EU. 


According to the UNITED director, the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, already at this time pushed the limit of xenophobia to a higher level by publicly taking an anti-migrant approach while reasoning it with existing challenges of integrating Hungary’s large Roma minority. 

In 2015, Hungary announced its completion of the creation of a 523-kilometer long border fence on its southern side towards Serbia and Croatia. Mr. Josá adds that after this time asking for asylum in Hungary was more or less impossible. In fact, entering Hungary from a state-declared ‘safe country’ such as Serbia would be met in a way in which the Hungarian government would deport asylum seekers back to the border and justify such an act claiming that the asylum should have been asked for in Serbia. In case anyone would still attempt to get asylum in Hungary at this point, there would be no more than two border offices processing only two asylum applications per day: 

So this means that if you are number 2000 to arrive, you have a thousand days to wait until you can submit your asylum claim – and in the meantime, because you are not entering Hungary and find yourself in no-man’s land, you are not obliged to get food, accommodation, healthcare, anything”. 

To this, Mr. Josá explains that the European Court of Human Rights on several occasions have sentenced Hungary for non-human treatment of refugees and asylum seekers including also police brutality and dog bites. 

But because they are on the other side of the border, the government declares them not reliable and also they don’t really have a voice in Serbia because the Serbian and Hungarian governments are close ‘friends’” he says. 

From 2015 until 2020, the migrant policy of Viktor Orbán’s government made Hungary almost asylum seeker free. However, with the help from several European courts pushing Hungary for a more humane treatment of refugees, people seeking asylum are no longer kept in limbo at the border but can instead have their papers processed inside the country. Still, asylum seekers and other migrants meet heavy unfriendliness from the average Hungarian population with a large percentage being hostile towards refugees entering their country. 

One of UNITED’s main activities is to monitor the fatalities of asylum seekers trying to enter the EU through a list of casualties each year: 

 “So in case you hear a number about the amount of people that died trying to enter the EU, it would be from the numbers that we collect in order to create a little more awareness” – says the director, Bálint Josá. 



UNITED for Intercultural Action was founded in 1993 and has ever since been a large pan-European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants, refugees and minorities. Together with more than 560 supporter organizations around Europe – ranging from local grassroots associations to national and international NGOs, UNITED coordinates campaign, organizes conferences, takes part in projects, produces publications and undertakes advocacy work to protest against discrimination and promote their shared vision for a diverse and inclusive society. 

Visit UNITED for Intercultural Action’s website here: https://unitedfia.org/about-united/ 



(Interviewed by Tenna Sørensen, outgoing placement officer at SCI Italia)

Far right-wing politics, fascism, and propaganda are three issues that SCI Italy and its partners attempt to counter in the project “CHAPTER: Challenging Propaganda through Remembrance”. However, it is also three tendencies that seem to be growing in Hungarian society. 

As part of CHAPTER’s final campaign, we took the occasion to talk to Bálint Jósa, activist and director of the organization UNITED for Intercultural Action, about Hungarian politics, the situation in his home country, and the potential of projects such as CHAPTER.


“Political apathy, division of a country and the lack of checks-and-balances are a very good combination for a fascist state to thrive and function,” says Mr. Jósa. 

The 42-year-old activist has worked for UNITED for 9 years – almost the same number of years of Viktor Orban’s current leadership in Hungary and a period in which the country in particular received international attention for its right-leaning policies. 

Mr. Jósa emphasizes that there are big differences between the historical understanding of fascism, the actual meaning of the word, and whether it is approached from a human rights or political-economical perspective.

Fascism is also when the state does not care about the individual’s rights – meaning that the interest of the state is becoming superior to the rights of the individual and that challenging the leader’s opinion will classify you as an enemy of the state”.

According to him, the Hungarian has a well-documented, problematic relationship with human rights, which is exacerbated by its promotion of a “tyranny of the majority” – a political situation where a 51 percent majority can decide that the other 49 percent must give up on their rights. As Mr. Jósa explains, this system is one of alienation, dividing people into subcategories and turning them against each other. A “polarization method”, says Mr. Jósa, which is becoming more and more present in Hungary and all over Europe. 

What I see in Hungary is that the political spectrum is very divided. We have a very clear non-majority rule of the government, meaning that most people are not in support of this government” – he says. 

At the same time, the ‘checks-and-balances’ system – a system supposed to divide legal power into different branches and keep power in check – is very limited. In Hungary, political representatives and leaders are all elected by the government and by prime minister Viktor Orban himself. This, says Mr. Jósa, creates a system infiltrated with totalitarian tendencies. A system where it becomes virtually impossible to challenge the government’s decisions.

So, the only limit to the ideas or solutions of this government are the people and the voice of the people. Sometimes it happens – when big issues come up – that the civil society are in sync, and we stop some sort of processes. But it is rare.” 

Moreover, the Hungarian political system is characterized by political apathy, says the activist. A mere 20-22% of young people turn up at the polls to vote and it is a rare sight to see Hungarian people stand up to its government’s decisions.  

Eastern Europeans tend to fear the state and do not trust the state at the same time. Plus, they don’t believe that speaking out makes sense. We live under a lot of suppression, so we are used to being singled out and arrested by the police if we talk too badly about our ‘father’ Stalin or whoever is the ruler in the country.” 


According to Mr. Jósa, there are similarities to be found all over the Eastern bloc. Romanians and Bulgarians find themselves in a similar situation to the people in Hungary, having few left-wing supporters and even less political influence. 

At the same time, Mr. Jósa singles out the Czech Republic and Ukraine as the ‘East bloc outsiders’. The former because of its different circumstances under the communist regime. And the latter due to internal divisions on its relationship to Russia that creates a huge potential of real military conflict as we are currently seeing. However, according to Mr. Jósa, differences are minute. In general, there is not a lot of progress to be found on the political left in the East. 

The Hungarian government, for example, routinely blocks or criticizes EU sanctions against Russia and China and cultivates strong relationships with “critical extreme groups and parties” such as Marie Le Pen in France, Nigel Farage in the UK, and the Italian National Fascist Party, he says. A style of coalition-building which Mr. Jósa describes as “totalitarian-styled” and “illiberal”:

Building such coalitions means that they are turning [Hungary] more and more receptive to fascist ideology. When the government allows for fascism to thrive on the governmental level then of course those who are part of right-wing violent extremism also thrive and get stronger and more accepted.” 

And as the margins of right-wing mentality expand in the political top, Hungary has come to serve as a haven for hundreds of extremist militias coming to receive military training, explains Mr. Jósa. 

We have a big international gathering in February in Hungary that is accommodating up to 5000 neo-Nazis from the world including a couple of 100 from Germany – and it is happening under the nose of the government.” 

According to Mr. Jósa, the gatherings have welcomed amongst its extremist visitors the Christchurch murderer who killed 51 people during Friday prayers as well as Norwegian extremist Anders Breivik who killed 77 people in Oslo and Utøya in 2011. Despite the illegality of such military training, they take place with the knowledge of the country’s security forces. At the same time, Hungary is hosting neo-Nazi party heads from countries such as Sweden and Austria who turn to Hungary for asylum. 

They do not get political asylum because they are part of the EU, but they still have residency and unofficial support from groups related to the government. So, what I see is a network of extreme violent groups being present in Hungary and using it as a community space for their actions”. 

However, what is most upsetting and disturbing to the UNITED director is the absence of political attention. The news does not “travel West,” he says, and Hungarians look in vain for The Guardian or The New York Times articles zooming in on the neo-Nazi gatherings in their country.


In response to the 2019 EU election, the organization UNITED has created a monitoring campaign called ‘Make Them Small Again’. Here, Europeans can submit cases of extreme right-wing groups, political parties, or candidates that promote fascism or fascist movements. The result is a database creating awareness about the rise of fascist movements in Europe.

Awareness is acutely necessary in a reality where Europe’s dark past is resurfacing, says Mr. Jósa. To him, the individuals burning refugee tents on the Hungarian border are not much different from those forcing Jews into concentration camps. And remembrance is key – especially as the eyewitnesses of past wrongdoings are disappearing. 

How will we educate about the Holocaust when there is no one to tell the story in person? (…) The only reason we can still say ‘never again’ and having it be an advantage that our ancestors did not fight fascism but lost the war is that we now know where it leads. So, I want to use this advantage to warn people and remind them that if we do not fight back, we know where it leads,” he says.

Projects such as CHAPTER aims to unite various European countries around anti-fascism and antipropaganda and shed light on realities outside people’s local environments. History has shown that these disturbing realities – even as they might take place on peripheries of society – can grow hugely problematic for mainstream Europe, Mr. Jósa points out. However, projects such as CHAPTER also suffer limitations. 

“The EU will not assign us a monitoring project on right-wing radicalism. Its political work should be much more independent,” stresses Mr. Jósa.

According to him, crowdfunding among ordinary people and businesses can counter the lack of political agency and vision within the EU. The funding would allow projects such as CHAPTER to live independently and offer political training, advocacy, and a sort of academy of activists without EU-imposed limitations.

Our projects should be better at disseminating our values and building a better region for Europe because right-wing extremists have a clear vision on what they dislike in our society, while neither the liberal, the green or the left have a tangible vision.

However, this vision must carry within it a much stronger narrative than what is currently the case, says Mr. Jósa. International projects cannot just hone in on their own particular issues. They must make public discussions about human rights more accessible to ordinary citizens:  

Without a narrative, without a vision, we are not going to be able to get to ordinary citizens (…) No one needs social security unless they become unemployed. No one needs healthcare unless they become sick. This is the logical of fundamental rights – that no one really needs them unless they are violated and then if they are violated and no one is there to protect you, you are left on your own”. 

Stay tuned to read more about Bálint Josá’s points of view regarding Hungary’s treatment of minority groups such as migrants, LTGBQ+ communities and its Roma population in the following articles coming up soon:



UNITED for Intercultural Action was founded in 1993 and has ever since been a large pan-European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants, refugees and minorities. Together with more than 560 supporter organizations around Europe – ranging from local grassroots associations to national and international NGOs, UNITED coordinates campaign, organizes conferences, takes part in projects, produces publications and undertakes advocacy work to protest against discrimination and promote their shared vision for a diverse and inclusive society. 

Visit UNITED for Intercultural Action’s website here: https://unitedfia.org/about-united/ 


Non avevamo detto mai più? – Round table that will bring together historians and intellectuals with anti-fascist collectives and militants from different European countries and not to discuss what it means to be “internationalists” in the current context  during the final event of Chapter in Rome with the intervention of Balint:



Maria Catena Mancuso is the co-author and co-speaker together with Nadeesha Uyangoda and Nathasha Fernando of Sulla Razza – a podcast wanting to translate into Italian words and concepts from Anglo-American culture revolving around the notion of “race” and does so together with the points of view of non-white Italians. More than that, she also wrote and hosted S/Confini – a podcast about migration and identity – together with Natasha Fernando. 

Maria participated in one of the final events of our project “CHAPTER – Challenging Propaganda through Remembrance”, which took place in Rome during the fall. The specific event was entitled Genere e Minoranze – La strumentalizzazione di vecchie e nuove destre sui corpi di donne e migranti and discussed several topics such as femonationalism and practices of feminist and anti-racist resistance. Together in the debate with Maria Mancuso were Marie Moïse (activist and PhD student in political philosophy) and a representative of the Capitoline Women’s House Lucha y Siesta.

Throughout this article, Maria Catena Mancuso brings us closer to her vision of feminism by sharing her perspective on how anti-fascism and feminism intersect, some of the challenges that feminist movements face today as well as what could be done to overcome them. 


The link between anti-fascism and feminism

“There is certainly some common ground between the two, for example the fact that both are fighting to put an end to a patriarchal ideology. However, if in the case of feminism the struggle against patriarchy is open and is the final goal, it seems to me that according to anti-fascism, this is a secondary fact, that is, anti-fascism does not necessarily question the patriarchal authority in the society does not want to put an end to fascism as an expression of a sexist ideology. And therefore, an anti-fascist may very well not be a feminist. We women are well aware that even in those environments that should be protected, anti-fascists, from the left-wing. Our requests are not always heeded and in any case we expect that leaders are male and that women remain one step behind. Let’s say that our society is steeped in patriarchy and therefore all environments, even anti-fascist ones, can be influenced by it ”.


The existence of femonationalism

Among other things, Maria talks to us about femonationalism, a topic discussed during the final Chapter event.

“When I talk about leaders, I don’t mean that it is enough to have a female leader for that conditions to suddenly become a feminist. It’s not like this, even women can be sexist. And nowadays, in Italy the women who hold more roles in institutions and political parties are from the right-wing and are certainly not feminists, as in the case of Casellati, president of the Senate, or Meloni, head of the Brothers of Italy. And the european nationalist right-wing, as Sara Farris explains in her book Femonationalism, use the demand for gender equality to carry out Islamophobic and racist policies, thus exploiting and disfiguring feminist instances. And in the name of women’s rights they oppress other people ”.

In the episode on Intersectional Feminism of Sulla Razza, the speakers talk about the position of migrant and Italian ethnic minority women in feminist movements and care work. During the interview we often returned to this topic:

“This is a very hot topic today. I talked about it with five people linked to activism and disclosure on racial, identity and gender issues as an in-depth look at that episode in the choral interview on Vice. During the interview, Leila Belhadj Mohamed said that in her opinion today we are facing a mainstream feminism that is strongly white and bourgeois and that does not make room for everyone’s requests.

And actually in the mainstream feminist speech, the most reformist one, the centrality is on gender equality, understood as equal social and economic power, something that, as Bell Hooks recounts, is a request of privileged white middle-class women. Feminism meant  as a movement that wants to put an end to sexist oppression cannot stop at gender equality or wage equality. Bourgeois feminists have made equal wages their main struggle when in reality not everyone can or wants to make a career.”

She adds that especially many women are exploited by other women who consider themselves feminists. And he cites nursing work as an example. Many career women who consider themselves feminists employ racialized women who are delegated that kind of work. These women do not have the right to be exempted from treatment because they are in a subordinate position in our society, they are marginalized.

“Feminism must fight for the liberation of all and therefore it must be intersectional and it must also go beyond gender, it must be trans-feminist.”

(To learn more about this episode, there is an interview with him that can be read on Vice Italy).

The internal and external challenges in feminism

There are many external challenges that feminism has to face, we talked about femonationalism, that is to say racism in the name of women, but there is also co-optation by brands that ends up watering down issues that are, according to Maria , strongly political, transformative and revolutionary.

“Radical feminism wants to question the whole system, while brands tell you that you just need to buy the T-shirt that says I am a feminist to change the situation. Capitalism is very good at co-opting struggles, it doesn’t just do it with feminism. For example, in the case of environmentalism, that’s what it tells you if you buy the metal water bottle, you save the Planet. “

Other external challenges that Maria comments are the fact that the victories that were now considered to have been won are called into question, such as that of the right to abortion and reproductive rights: “we see that steps are being taken backwards on this” and on violence against women : “Domestic violence is very present, indeed, in recent years with the pandemic, femicides have increased”.

But she insists: “The most important ones in my opinion are the internal challenges”

She takes as an example the need to talk to men, and make sure that feminism is no longer seen as a movement against them: it is one of the lessons of Bell Hooks in Feminism is for everyone. Patriarchy also strips men of certain rights and imposes on them an identity based on domination, but even a man can support the feminist struggle.

“And then it is important that the privileged women who have the financial means to divorce, to leave home, to be economically independent from their partner, who in life may have a plan B, C and D, recognize their privilege compared to those women who are exploited, underpaid, who are single mothers, housewives, who do not necessarily have networks that can protect them from domestic violence and who find it harder to get out of it. “

What can be done to contrast today’s challenges

“Starting again from the ideas of Bell Hooks, the concepts of sisterhood and radicality could be taken up with more force because they are concepts that can do a lot. To continue to question oneself, to self-criticize, as we said before, to rethink together with men to a masculinity not based on sexism. And don’t stop at gender equality but radically change society because patriarchy doesn’t change with more women in power, with better wages for some classes or for some types of jobs. “

Finally, she suggests reaching the inland and rural areas.

“We need to go beyond Milan- and Rome-centrism, sometimes it seems that things can only be changed or decided in the big cities. And if it is true that social centers are rare in large areas of Italy, we must find a way to create feminist collectives and sections of Non Una di Meno there too. “

You can find her work in the Sulla Razza podcast and watch the replay of the Chapter final event available on Youtube.





The infographics

This set of infographics has been realized thanks to the Remembrance Messengers and all participants to the Remembrance Weeks in Greece, Italy, Poland, Austria and Catalunya. This is an output of the field researches implemented during the Remembrance Weeks on 10 topics identified at the beginning of the activities. The goal was to analyze the propaganda built by the far-right movements throughout history with relation to these topics: fear, propaganda, gender, youth, freedom of speech, nationalism, history, normalization, social frustration, hate crimes. They have been created through the collection of visual, spoken and read testimonies. The result it’s all to be watched and read.

Infographics Remembrance Week Italy

The first Remembrance Week took place in Rome, Italy, from the 14th to the 23rd of June. During this week, the participants developed two infographics related to the topics of youth and freedom of speech. The infographics introduce different ways of expressions, question the use of social media and reflect on what makes the youth act.

Infographics Remembrance Week Poland

The second Remembrance Week was hold in Warsaw, Poland, from the 25th of June to the 4th of July. This Remembrance Week focused on the topics of hate crimes and history with the result of three infographics. The infographics consist of printed manifestos about topics that, according to the participants, need peoples’ attention including reflections on the impact of words, diversity and the values that humanity needs. Check them out here.

Infographics Remembrance Week Austria

The third Remembrance Week took place in a village close to Vienna, Austria, from the 14th to the 23th of June 2021. The two main topics of the week were nationalism and propaganda with which the participants produced two infographics. One infographic provides information on how far right movements communicate while the other deals with the Nazi persecution of homosexual people during the holocaust.

Infographics Remembrance Week Greece

From the 29th of August until the 7th of September, the fourth Remembrance Week took place in Athens, Greece. As a result of this week, the participants have created three infographics with information on several topics including Neonazism in football, use of violence and facist propaganda in the media. For example, the first infographic identifies varous symbols used by facist and nazi groups also in relation to football.

Infographics Remembrance Week Catalonia

The last Remembrance Week lasted from the 23rd of September until the 3rd of October and took place in Barcelona, Catalonia. The output of this Remembrance Week resulted in three infographics concerning the issues of populism, gender and exile as well as a reminder of critical thinking to prevent becoming victims of propaganda.

“The more our governments are trying to divide us, the more we should connect and stay united” – Interview with Igor Stokfiszewski

“The more our governments are trying to divide us, the more we should connect and stay united” – Interview with Igor Stokfiszewski

(Interviewed by Tenna Sørensen, outgoing placement officer at SCI Italia)

Above headline summarizes the words of Igor Stokfiszewski – researcher, activist and journalist at the Polish media outlet Krytyka Polityczna – who was invited to Rome in the beginning of November to speak in the Final Conference of our project “CHAPTER: Challenging Propaganda through Remembrance”.

SCI Italia’s project CHAPTER was created in response to the current tendencies of recurring right-wing attitudes across Europe and the appertaining increase in populist media groups depicting third-country nationals and refugees as exploiters of the welfare system. Through research collected during five Remembrance Weeks hosted in different European countries, it compares the usage of Nazi-Fascist propaganda in the past to challenge the trends of the present. 

According to Mr. Stokfiszewski, projects such as CHAPTER are extremely relevant in order to maintain and move forward what he describes as ‘the fire of hope, emancipation, progress and rights’. Referring to the recurring tendency of emerging right-wing attitudes, he says: 

“In Europe and also elsewhere, we find ourselves in a difficult position in regards to the future because of what is happening among our societies and with our governments”. 

Jakub Szafranski ©


Mr. Stokfiszewski is from Poland – a country, which also in recent years has received attention regarding its right-wing narratives and efforts of propaganda. Looking at his home country, he points to a plethora of different examples including an attack by the current president Andrzej Duda on the LGBTQ+ communities with slogans such as ‘these are not people – this is ideology’ used to attract votes during his electoral campaign in 2019. 

Mr. Stokfiszewski also mentions a strong rhetoric of the Polish government against the right of abortion slamming women getting abortions as murderers in the attempt to ban it. Lastly, the dividing narrative has adopted itself in the current refugee crisis, which in the case of Poland is taking place on the border to Belarus. According to Mr. Stokfiszewski, the rhetoric here is ‘full of racism’, ‘lacking empathy’ and ‘a rhetoric related to the war’ from the side of Belarus and Russia: 

 “We are under a hybrid war and this is also the reason why our government and the president decided to introduce a martial law in some of the regions of eastern Poland in order to have a legal framework in which they can do whatever they want, which means not to let refugees in” – he says. 

Mr. Stokfiszewski adds the fact that journalists and activists are not allowed to go there, which means that access to information is dependent on the local people and whistle blowers.


According to Mr. Stokfiszewski, today’s use of propaganda has changed from general propaganda attacks in the past to being more targeting:

When I think about how our right-wing government and forces operate today, I see that they do not longer believe that they can push their message towards the entirety of the society. Instead, they are trying to reach their electoral base and use propaganda in the sense that they change their content according to the receivers of their messages meaning that they use different messages on television, in museums and on social media to target different segments”. 

He adds that the rhetoric of the Polish government has generally been successful and received with quite big public support for the government. 

According to research, such tendencies as a totalitarian approach wanting to divide between who belong to us and who do not are very popular among the Polish society” – he says. 

Mr. Stokfiszewski claims that even the voters of Civic Platform, Poland’s liberal party, have shown to be in favor of the government’s attitudes against welcoming refugees. To this, he concludes: 

We should not count that much on the political processes but more on the social transformation through media and culture, which gives a little bit of hope because people like us in the civil society sector, activists, social movements and so on are quite skillful in pushing forward the social transformation even if we do not have access to media and infrastructure power institutions.”


Mr. Stokfiszewski admits that there are only a few tools used to counter propaganda in Poland. One tool is the street, which as he explains became a very visible and strong platform of counterpropaganda during a women’s strike in 2020.

“I am not only speaking about the protests but also about covering the streets and the buildings with graffiti of political slogans, very strong political slogans related to resistance” – he says.

He elaborates that this form of counterpropaganda is especially powerful as it provides those resisting with the feeling of safety.

Another tool, according to Mr. Stokfiszewski, is new independent media. He points out the need of a change in media from being one-way communication to including the recipients: 

“There is a necessity to develop new participatory, interactive ways of communication with people reading the media in which social and political narratives are co-constructed among a really large number of people and not only the ones who have the means of production of content”.

The last tool currently used to counter propaganda in Poland is the social centers – some autonomous and others supported by liberal or left-liberal local governments. 

It seems that there is some kind of common goal, which makes us interconnected in a different way than we used to be and gives a possibility to have platforms of counterpropaganda like social centers supported by the local government”.

Mr. Stokfiszewski believes that also the social centers create safe spaces allowing for new social movements to develop strategies for the future, which according to him is highly needed. 


According to Mr. Stokfiszewski, the activist movements in Poland have changed from global to more local struggles compared to a century ago: 

 “I think that what has changed is the conservative national governments, which really introduce new dynamics to countries such as Poland in a way that we are dealing with some other issues than in other contexts” – he explains. 

He mentions the outbreak of COVID-19 as another central factor these days including its consequences such as the subsequent closure of the countries and the emerging economic crises. 

At the same time, Mr. Stokfiszewski mentions a campaign in Poland, which is called ‘Don’t call me Murzyn’ or ‘Don’t call me negro’, organized by Polish people of African origin:

“What I found extremely interesting was that it was directly related to Black Lives Matter but the campaign in Poland was really translated into a local context – very efficiently into a local context, which made me think that we should invent a new way to negotiate between local contexts being aware of the fact that most of the struggles and the strongest social movements at the moment are global: anti-racist, feminist and climate movements are absolutely global!” 

Mr. Stokfiszewski believes that the center of the debate should be what he defines as ‘the current challenge to reinvent the international and global perspectives in local struggles’ in response to the right-wing efforts to divide us. It is especially for this reason that he finds projects such as CHAPTER important because they offer the opportunity for activists and experts around the world to gather and share experiences and ideas to broaden our perspectives on how to stay united.

The Polish media outlet Krytyka Polityczna (Political Critique) was established in 2002 and aims to push forward the progressive agenda in Poland while demanding a more open and integrated European policy from the Polish elites. Krytyka Polityczna consists of the online “Dziennik Opinii (Opinion Daily), a quarterly magazine, a publishing house, cultural centres in Warsaw, Łódź, Gdańsk and Cieszyn, activist clubs in a dozen cities throughout Poland as well as in Kiev and Berlin and a research centre: the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw.