Thu, 20 Sep 2018

Thousands of protesters disrupt Polish independence day

By Sheetal Sukhija, Europe News
13 Nov 2017, 10:21 GMT+10

WARSAW, Poland - Thousands of nationalist protesters disrupted the Poland's independence day events on Saturday, marching down the streets of Warsaw, holding banners and waving flags.

Protesters burnt flares and held banners that read ‘White Europe, Europe must be white,’ and ‘Pray for an Islamic Holocaust.’

Marchers wore masks and waved red and white Polish flags, chanting ‘Death to enemies of the homeland,’ and ‘Catholic Poland, not secular.’

According to the police, about 60,000 people took part in the nationalist demonstration and while most of them were Poles, other protesters came from all over Europe.

Local reports noted that the National Radical Camp was one of the lead organizations behind the nationalists' march.

Previously, the camp has taken to the streets to protest against Muslim immigration, gay rights, the EU and anything it considers undermine Polish Catholic values.

The group that enjoys a small support in the country has led critics to argue that the Polish government, which has struck a nationalistic tone and linked immigrants to crime and disease, has fostered an atmosphere of intolerance and xenophobia that has emboldened it.

On Saturday, the Polish capital witnessed a far smaller demonstration by groups condemning the protesters' hijacking of Polish independence day.

Leading the formal celebrations of Polish independence day in central Warsaw, Polish President Andrzej Duda laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier, and told the crowd to remember the price of freedom and independence.

The day marks the re-birth of Poland in November 1918, 123 years after the Prussian, Habsburg and Russian empires carved up Poland among themselves and erased it from the map of Europe.

Over the last few years, the holiday has been overshadowed by the far-right march and fears of violence.

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