Poland’s Foreign Ministry is insisting that a large weekend march by thousands of nationalists and far-right groups in Warsaw carrying placards calling for a ‘White Europe’ was largely an ‘expression of patriotic values’.
The ministry strongly condemns racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic ideas, saying that Saturday’s Independence Day march was ‘a great celebration of Poles united around the common values of freedom and loyalty to an independent homeland’, saying it was not justifiable to define the march based on some ‘incidental’ elements.
The event, organised by far-right groups, was attended by some 60,000 people with some carrying banners with messages such as ‘White Europe of brotherly nations’ and ‘Pray for an Islamic Holocaust’.
March of hate: Nationalist demonstrators burn flares and wave Polish flags during the annual march to commemorate Poland’s National Independence Day in Warsaw
Despite several; demonstrators carrying placards calling for a ‘White Europe’, Poland’s Foreign Ministry insists that the Independence Day march was largely an ‘expression of patriotic values’.
‘Expressing patriotism: Polish nationalists take part in the March of Independence 2017 under the slogan ‘We want God’ as part of Polish Independence Day celebrations in Warsaw
The march organised by far-right groups was one of a number of marches organised in the Polish capital, which was celebrating Poland’s rebirth as an independent nation 99 years ago.
The far-rights presence at the event was visible for all to see, with some holding up xenophobic banners and chanting racist slogans. A demonstrator interviewed by state television TVP said he was on the march to ‘remove Jewry from power.’
Some marched under a banner which read ‘We Want God’, words from an old Polish song which Donald Trump quoted during his visit to the country earlier this year. Others spoke about standing up to liberals and defending Christianity.
Vast swathes of the crowd marched with the red-and-white flag while others let off red flares and firecrackers during their march. A banner depicting a falanga, a far-right symbol dating back to the 1930s, was also unfurled by a section of the crowd.
Authorities also had to ensure that anti-fascist protesters were kept away from far-right demonstrators over fears their could be violent outbreaks.
Protesters light flares and carry Polish flags during a rally, organised by far-right nationalist groups, to mark 99th anniversary of Polish independence in Warsaw, Poland
Polish nationalists walk through the Poniatowski Bridge as they take part in the March of Independence 2017 under the slogan ‘We want God’ as part of Polish Independence Day celebrations in Warsaw
Participants of the March of Independence 2017 gathered in the city centre in Warsaw, Poland
Protesters stand with banner ‘All-Polish Youth’ during a rally, organised by far-right nationalist groups
The vast swathes of flares light up the sky in the Polish capital as fascist groups march in Warsaw on the 99th anniversary of Poland regaining its sovereignty
Polish nationalists light flairs as they take part in the March of Independence where several racist messages were heard
Independence Day in Poland marks November 11, 1918, when the country regained its sovereignty at the end of World War I after it had been partitioned and ruled over by Russia, Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian empire.
Ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski noted that Poland had not always been fully independent since 1918, a reference to Germany’s occupation during World War II and the decades spent under Moscow’s direction during the Cold War.
Still, he said: ‘The Polish state was internationally recognized the whole time and that is a great achievement.’
The march carried on throughout the evening and when the sun went down across Warsaw, the capital of Poland. Thousands of people are said to have attended today’s march, making it one of the biggest in recent history
Donald Tusk, President of European Council (second left) attends the official celebrations of the 99th Anniversay of Independence of Poland at the Tomb of Unknown Soldiers, Warsaw, Poland
The President of Poland, Andrzej Duda (centre) attends the official celebrations of the 99th Anniversary of Independence of Poland at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier
Soldiers march during the official celebrations of the 99th Anniversay of Independence of Poland at the Tomb of Unknown Soldiers
Protesters carry Polish flags during a rally, organised by far-right and nationalist groups. Anti-fascist demonstrators also attended