Tens of thousands join Polish nationalists’ march
WARSAW – Carrying Polish flags and throwing red smoke bombs, tens of thousands of people on Saturday joined a march in Warsaw organised by far-right nationalists to mark independence day, while counter-protesters rallied against fascism.
The annual march also attracted a considerable number of supporters of the governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party to honour the reestablishment of Poland’s independence in 1918.
This year’s slogan was “We Want God”, which 21-year-old Pawel from the southern city of Rzeszow said was “important because religion is important in our country and we don’t want Islamisation, of Europe or especially Poland.”
Those marching chanted “God, honour, country” and “Glory to our heroes”, while a few people also shouted xenophobic lines like “Pure Poland, white Poland” and “Refugees get out”.
A smaller rally of a couple thousand people earlier in the day protested what they called the “fascist” nature of the main march.
“I’m shocked that they’re allowed to demonstrate on this day. It’s 50 to100,000 mostly football hooligans hijacking patriotism,” said 50-year-old Briton Andy Eddles, a language teacher who has been living in Poland for 27 years.
“For me it’s important to support the anti-fascist coalition, and to support fellow democrats, who are under pressure in Poland today,” he told AFP.
Main march participant Kamil Staszalek however warned against making generalisations and said he was marching to “honour the memory of those who fought for Poland’s freedom”.