Has this magazine cover sparked a new migrant row?

Jessica Hartogs, special to CNBC

Titled the "Islamic Rape of Europe," a right-wing Polish magazine has caused controversy with its latest cover depicting a blonde, white woman being physically harassed and pulled in all directions by three pairs of dark-skinned hands.

The magazine – wSieci, or the Network – teases a "report about what the media and Brussels elite are hiding from the citizens of the European Union," according to an unverified translation, and its article refers to the Cologne attacks on hundreds of women on New Year's Eve.

Refugees and migrants were largely accused after over 1,000 complaints were filed in the German city that included theft, sexual assault and rape.

The complaints sparked a backlash against German Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to have an open-door policy to refugees who had recently arrived in Europe from war-torn Syria and Iraq.

This picture shows a front page of a xenophobic and nationalist Polish weekly 'W sieci' ( On the web) with title 'Islamic rape of Europe' on February 18, 2016 in Warsaw.
Janek Skarzynski | AFP | Getty Images

However, Cologne public prosecutor Ulrich Bremer later said in an interview with German newspaper Die Welt that only three of the 58 men arrested were of Syrian or Iraqi origin. The majority were North African migrants, and three were German citizens.

The Polish magazine cover has created outrage on social media - with users comparing it to the propaganda used by Nazis against the Jews in the 1940s.

However, anti-migrant and anti-refugee sentiment has grown in the past few months, mainly in Central and Southern Europe.

Immigrant minors peer out through the fence of an immigrant detention center in the village of Filakio, on the Greek-Turkish border.
Europe split over closing Greek borders to migrants

In 2015, over one million people reached Europe's shores, mainly through Greece -- nearly half of them Syrians fleeing a civil war now entering its fifth year -- United Nations estimates show.

With the exception of Hungary, central European countries have refused to accept any significant number of migrants.

Poland's conservative government has resisted EU efforts to increase the number of migrants it is prepared to accept, and Austria on Friday launched a cap on immigration, drawing angry reaction from the EU.

AFP reported that a maximum of 80 migrants per day are being allowed to claim asylum in the small European country.

In addition, Vienna is limiting the daily number of people transiting Austria to seek asylum in a neighboring country to 3,200.

Once the quotas have been reached, "the borders will be closed," police spokesman Fritz Grundnig told AFP Friday.

This story has been updated since first published to add details of the recent arrival of Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Germany.

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