Nationalists March On Poland's Independence Day

Nationalists March On Poland's Independence Day

Nationalists March On Poland's Independence Day

An annual nationalist rally in Poland drew all-time high attendance Saturday as tens of thousands of young, angry demonstrators marched through the streets of Warsaw brandishing Nazi and white supremacist slogans and calling for an "Islamic holocaust".

Many people in the crowd told local and worldwide media they were not part of the radical-nationalist groups, but were attending in celebration of Independence Day.

Police estimated 60,000 people took part.

All Poland Youth has organized demonstrations on Polish Independence Day at least since 2010, but in its early years only a few hundred people attended.

Polish nationalists carry a banner translating to "we want God" during a march in Warsaw. They also introduced a new slogan - "We want God" - which reflects the chant from more than a million Poles who saw Pope John Paul II visit the country, his homeland, in 1979.

Some of the nationalists who participated in the road flare-heavy rally were seen holding black, white and red Polish Falangist flags, a variant of the National Radical Camp Falanga, a Polish nationalist movement, somewhat associated with Francisco Franco's Falangism in the 1930s.

It attracted far-right agitators from elsewhere in Europe, including Tommy Robinson from the United Kingdom and Roberto Fiore from Italy. Speakers spoke of standing against liberals and defending Christian values.

But many argued the day had been "hijacked" by racist groups, with an "anti-fascist" counter-protest attracting around 2,000 people. Organizers ensured the two groups remained apart to prevent violence.

Ruling party leader Jarosław Kaczyński said: "The 11th of November is the 99th anniversary of the day which is considered the day Poland regained its independence, a very important day in our history". After laying a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier, he told the crowd to remember the price of freedom and independence.

Tusk said: "Independence Day has always been and will continue to be a celebration of all Poles and not just one party. No politician in Poland has ever had nor will ever have a monopoly on patriotism", Mr Tusk said as he arrived at the airport in Warsaw.

"It is not only about material funds".

The mass display of xenophobia, including anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and anti-gay slogans, was not immediately condemned by senior government officials. and it was certain to heighten concerns in Brussels over the continuing rightward shift of Poland's politics.

The German government has rejected the idea of paying massive wartime reparations to Poland, saying the matter had been settled in 1953.

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