WARSAW, Poland — Tens of 1000’s of fascists and white supremacists marched in an illustration in Warsaw Saturday, as Poles celebrated their nation’s Independence Day.
Protesters marched underneath far-right banners, with one studying “White Europe of brotherly nations.” Many carried the nationwide white-and-red flag as others set off flares and firecrackers, filling the air with crimson smoke.
Police estimated that 60,00zero folks took half. Many had been younger males, some with their faces lined or with beer bottles in hand, however households and older Poles additionally participated. Some carried banners depicting a falanga, a far-right image relationship to the 1930s.
The organizers of the general public show of xenophobic and far-right views embody the National-Radical Camp, the National Movement and the All Polish Youth, radical organizations that hint their roots to anti-Semitic teams lively earlier than World War II.
The march was one in all many occasions marking Poland’s rebirth as a nation in 1918 after being wiped off the map for 123 years. Earlier within the day, President Andrzej Duda presided over state ceremonies additionally attended by European Union president Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister.
But the demonstration has turn out to be the biggest Independence Day occasion lately, overshadowing official state observances and different patriotic occasions.
The slogan for this 12 months’s occasion is “We Want God,” phrases from an outdated non secular Polish music that President Donald Trump quoted in July whereas visiting Warsaw. Trump praised Poland for what he described because the nation’s protection of Western civilization.
Speakers talked of standing in opposition to liberals and defending Christian values.
Rafal Pankowski, head of the anti-extremist affiliation Never Again, says that regardless of the reference to God, the march shouldn’t be seen as impressed by non secular beliefs. Far-right “neo-pagans” plan to participate together with Roman Catholic teams.
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“We know that Donald Trump is not the most religious man, and I think that most of the organizers are not very religious, either,” Pankowski, a sociologist, mentioned. “But they use Christianity as a kind of identity marker, which is mostly about being anti-Islam now.”
The march has turn out to be one of many largest such demonstrations in Europe, and on Saturday it drew far-right leaders from elsewhere in Europe, together with Tommy Robinson from Britain and Roberto Fiore from Italy.
American white supremacist Richard Spencer was scheduled to talk at a convention in Warsaw on Friday — till the Polish authorities mentioned he wasn’t welcome within the nation.
State broadcaster TVP, which displays the conservative authorities’s line, referred to as the demonstration a “great march of patriots,” and in its broadcasts described the occasion as one which drew largely common Poles expressing their love of Poland, not extremists.
“It was a beautiful sight,” Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak mentioned. “We are proud that so many Poles have decided to take part in a celebration connected to the Independence Day holiday.”
A smaller counter-protest by an anti-fascist motion additionally pbaded off. Organizers saved the 2 teams aside to forestall violence. However, there was one incident through which the nationalists pushed and kicked a number of ladies who chanted anti-fascism slogans and had a banner saying “Stop Fascism.”
Independence Day marks Poland regaining its sovereignty on the finish of World War I after being partitioned and dominated for the reason that late 18th century by Russia, Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The current emergence of Central Europe as a crucible for neo-fascism carries quite a few paradoxes. The area, as soon as caught behind the Iron Curtain, has seen spectacular financial progress since Poland, Hungary and different nations threw off communism, embraced capitalism and joined the European Union and NATO.
Few of the Muslim refugees and migrants who’ve arrived in Europe since 2015 have sought to settle in that a part of the continent, preferring Germany and different richer nations within the West. Nonetheless, anti-migrant views run excessive.
But political scientist Miroslav Mares, an knowledgeable on extremism at Masaryk University within the Czech Republic, mentioned Central Europeans hear about badaults by Islamic extremists in France, Germany and England and concern that “beyond the borders is a state of chaos and war” that might envelop them.
Moreover, like others within the period of globalization, many individuals really feel annoyed that the enhancing financial system hasn’t benefited them. There are complaints that wages stay a lot decrease than within the West whereas inequality has grown for the reason that finish of communism.