Polish leaders condemn 'xenophobia' after huge far-right march

Lester Mason
November 15, 2017

"Jews Out" was among the chants of choice for 60,000 far-right Poles marching through the streets of Warsaw on Saturday, marking the country's independence. "It is an important message worth remembering and reinforcing". Though many families took part in the march, the event was organized by far-right groups and some carried banners with slogans like "White Europe of brotherly nations" or had flags with Celtic crosses, a white supremacist symbol.

Jonny Daniels, a British Jew who founded a Poland-based Holocaust commemoration group, said a small minority had "hijacked" the event, adding: "Poland can not allow this to happen". Latin for "God wills it", it was a cry used during the First Crusade in the 11th century, when a Christian army from Europe slaughtered Jews and Muslims in the Holy Land.

Poland's conservative President Andrzej Duda insisted Monday that "there is no place or consent in our country for xenophobia, there is no place in our country for sick nationalism, there is no place in our country for anti-Semitism".

He said it makes no difference if a person's father was "German, Jewish, Belarusian, Russian, or whatever".

Duda was echoed by the powerful leader of Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, widely regarded as Poland's defacto powerbroker.

He also said the racist slogans could have been a "provocation" by "those who want to harm Poland", without specifying who he had in mind.

The parliament is expected to start the process to trigger "Article Seven", which may result in Poland having certain rights suspended, the European Parliament said on its website.

AJC, an organization long involved in Poland and steadfastly devoted to fostering strong links among the U.S., Israel, Poland, and world Jewry, calls on the Polish government to counter all forms of xenophobia and racially-motivated hatred through concerted action. On Sunday night its Foreign Ministry said that the event was a risky "parade of extremist and racist elements".

"The apparent tolerance shown for these purveyors of hate - and, let's be clear, that's exactly what they are - by some Polish government officials is particularly troubling", said Markiewicz.

But opposition parties, rights groups, judges' lobbies, the global watchdog Council of Europe, Poland's western European Union peers such as Germany and France and the bloc's executive Commission say the changes erode judicial independence by bringing the courts under the direct control of the government. "The growth of xenophobic nationalism in Poland is becoming more risky, and we urge the government to condemn unequivocally the phenomenon and take appropriate action to counter it".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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