Far-right dominates Polish independence events
Thousands of far-right nationalists have marched to mark Poland’s independence day, burning red and white flares for the national flag and setting off firecrackers. The authorities estimated that 47,000 attended and the organisers said 150,000.
This year’s main threat to Poland, as perceived by organisers, came from those aiming to destroy the “Catholic Polish” identity and traditional family values, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and activists promoting sexual education.
“The independence march is a sad event, as it shows that Poland has a huge problem with national identity, especially the youth, which has been looking for answers in ethnonationalism,” said Rafal Pankowski, who heads the anti-racist Never Again Association.
“This event has also ceased to be only a day for Polish nationalism. It’s become a hub for far-right groups from around the world.”
Counter-protesters protected by police sang “Bella ciao”, an Italian anti-fascist resistance anthem, and chanted, “Warsaw free from fascism”.
They carried the flags of Poland, the EU and the rainbow LGBT flag.
Another small group of counter-protesters held a huge banner reading, “Constitution”, representing their support for liberal democracy and to commemorate Poland’s statehood regained at the end of First World War, after 123 years of foreign rule by tsarist Russia, Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian empire.
Nationalists have increasingly dominated the event. In 2017 participants carried white-supremacist banners, creating an international scandal.
“There is an ongoing fierce fight against our faith and our sacred values,” said Robert Bakiewicz, who leads the Independence March Association.
“It is happening through the profanation of the holy cross, a blasphemous portrayal of Virgin Mary, promotion of unnatural family model, demands of the right to live in a sin against the nature and the right to kill unborn children, and finally, there is an intensification of attacks against bishops calling these ideologies by their name and dubbing them as a plague.”
The symbol of this year’s march was a raised fist holding a rosary, which organisers called a symbol of Catholic resistance against growing calls for LGBT rights.
Last year, President Andrzej Duda and other leaders marched ahead in Warsaw but senior members of the Law and Justice party (PiS) were missing yesterday (Monday). Last year’s PiS presence was seen as an attempt to stop the far-right forming a separate political party.
Picture credit: YouTube