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American Jewish Committee decries hateful demonstrators on Poland's Independence Day

15 Novembre 2017

The call to action comes after a large demonstration filled with neo-Nazi and white supremacist rhetoric that took place in Warsaw on Saturday, the country's Independence Day. The event, which was organized by far-right groups under the "We want God" slogan, was described as one of the biggest nationalist gatherings in Europe in recent years.

"While the joyous 99th anniversary of Polish Independence was appropriately celebrated in ceremonies led by President Duda, the day was seriously marred by hateful, far-right throngs that threaten the core values of Poland and its standing overseas", said Agnieszka Markiewicz, Director of AJC's Warsaw-based Central Europe office.

The annual nationalist march was met with smaller counter-protests.

Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak called the large demonstration "a lovely sight", adding that "we are proud that so many Poles have chose to take part in a celebration connected to the Independence Day holiday".

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While some Polish ministers condemned the scenes, others spoke about the "beautiful" march, as masked men made "Sieg Heil" salutes, called for a "white Europe" and urged authorities to "remove Jewry from power". The gathering was "a great celebration of Poles united around the common values of freedom and loyalty to an independent homeland", the ministry said.

"This is a unsafe march instigated by extremists and racists...."

The leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, also said that were only "unfortunate incidents" at the rally, adding that it was nothing but a "marginal problem".

Agnieszka Markiewicz, the director of the American Jewish Committee's Warsaw office, said: "The apparent tolerance for purveyors of hate by some Polish government officials is particularly troubling". Kaczynski went on to suggest that the racist manifestations were a "provocation". "History shows that racial hatred must be dealt with quickly and decisively".

American Jewish Committee decries hateful demonstrators on Poland's Independence Day