At the first glance Polish intolerance of Muslims—expressed in a variety of quantitative and qualitative studies—seems to be puzzling for two reasons. Firstly, Poland has a six century long tradition of peaceful coexistence with Tatars, indigenous Polish Muslims, thus Poles should be used to the Muslim Other. Secondly, the number of Muslims in Poland is marginal (approximately 0.1%), which makes them hardly visible in the public sphere. Based on four hypotheses constructed on two factors (the number of Muslims and the wider regional and European context) the article hopes to provide some preliminary explanations.
The article aims to explore and analyze online activity of Polish female converts to Islam, especially, on forums. Since the number of Muslims in Poland is marginal, Internet forums provide the converts with a sense of a virtual Polish umma as well as information about Islam. At the same time, most of these forums are closed or hidden from the outside world and often only accessible through a network of contacts from the real world. In other words, forum members know each other in person. That is why ideological divisions (mostly between Salafīs and more liberal Muslimas) are visible also in the virtual world. This makes many converts unambiguous when it comes to their sense of belonging to the virtual umma: on one side, the virtual umma is their link to other Muslims but, on the other side, they feel misunderstood or even excluded due to the ideological differences within it.