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Independence Day march safe: interior minister

PR dla Zagranicy
Victoria Bieniek 13.11.2017 08:45
Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Błaszczak has said a march marking Independence Day on Saturday was safe, denying allegations of police brutality towards opponents of the march.
PAP/Jacek Turczyk

Błaszczak said that people in an anti-government rally in opposition to the Independence March, which saw 60,000 people walk through the streets of Warsaw on 11 November, “wanted to pick a fight”.

A number people held a rally, armed with anti-fascist and anti-racist banners and posters, in opposition to the Independence March, which featured allegedly racist slogans.

Poland's government condemns racist slogans, according to the foreign ministry and the culture minister.

According to a foreign ministry statement, defining the whole event based on a few incidents was unjustified.

Culture Minister Piotr Gliński said he was surprised that a banner “which could suggest that someone thinks of nationhood in ethnic or racist terms showed up at the beautiful national march”.

Gliński did not specify to which slogan he was referring, while a number of major international media outlets referred to numerous slogans, both carried and chanted by the crowd, as racist.

“We do not condone ... nationhood being understood in terms of ethnicity” Gliński said, adding that the Polish nation was defined by its culture.

Gliński suggested the slogan was “a kind of political provocation” about the negative aspects of political correctness and multicultural policy.

The left-wing Citizens of Poland organisation, which held a rally to counter the Independence March, accused some of the march's participants of breaking the law and accused City Hall and the police of failing to react.

According to the organisation's leader Paweł Kasprzak, marchers used flares, carried banners with hate speech, and insulted and assaulted a group of women who were in their way.

At a press conference, some women claimed they were spat on and kicked, had their hair pulled, and were dragged off the street by the marchers after they stepped in their path peacefully, carrying anti-fascist banners.

Kasprzak said a smaller march in the southwestern city of Wrocław had been organised by a man who was convicted of burning an effigy of a Jew and accused that city's authorities of also failing to react.

The Independence Day March, organised by right-wing groups, had an umbrella slogan of “We want God”, a line from a religious song, and a quote made by US President Donald Trump when he was in Warsaw earlier in the year.

Some 60,000 people took part in the march, according to police figures. Marchers waved Polish flags, some of them with various patriotic symbols on them, as well as other flags and banners, including armed forces insignia with the slogan “Death to enemies of the fatherland”.

Other banners included slogans such as: “Europe will be white or uninhabited”, and “A white Europe of fraternal nations”. (vb/pk)

Source: PAP, IAR

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