WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland's Eurosceptic leaders marked a century of national independence on Sunday, as more than 200,000 people marched…
WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s Eurosceptic leaders marked a century of national independence on Sunday, as more than 200,000 people marched through the capital in a parade involving far-right groups and neo-fascist activists from Italy.
People wear Polish flags and burn stains during a march that marks the 1
00th anniversary of Polish independence in Warsaw, Poland, November 11, 2018. The banner reads “God, Honor, Fatherland.” REUTERS / Kacper Pempel
Marsch is a focus on the debate about whether the government party (PiS) quietly encourages groups of roots in the fascist and anti-Semitic movements. The party won power in 2015, and Poland has since become increasingly isolated in Europe among accusations of an inclination against authoritarian rule.
Some marchers in Warsaw chanted: “Away with EU” but there was no sign of white supremacist banners visible last year’s March.
Government representatives departed from the most important marchers, away from any open perceptions of nationalism, and were kept separate by security forces.
“Thank you for coming here, for Poland, and for getting the white and red (Polish) flag that saw our fathers, grandfathers and grandfather spoil their blood,” said Andrzej Duda, a PiS allied beginning of March .
“There is room for everyone under our flags,” he said.
Several hundred yards behind the government column, participants held banners that said “God, glory, homeland” and launched red spots, blanketing parts of the marsh with smoke.
Some chanted: “Pride, pride, national pride” and “Yesterday it was Moscow, today it is Brussels that takes us away from our sovereignty.”
The mayor of Warsaw tried to ban a right march held on Nov.11 annually for almost a decade, but a court ruled her.
The government then agreed with the organizers after last minute talks to hold a common event to mark 100 years since the 1918 Polish Declaration of Independence after a 1700s partition of Russia, Austria and Germany.
“It was the largest march of free poles in a free Poland ever,” said government spokesman Joanna Kopcinska to PAP’s news agency.
Last year, the annual right march was dotted with racist banners like “pure blood, clear mind,” and “Europe will be white or uninhabited.”
These slogans broke concern about the emergence of xenophobia in Poland at a time when other European countries also suffered from the highest repetition.
PiS says it rejects anti-Semitism and racism, but critics accuse it of silence to the far right.
While insisting on Poland should remain in the EU, PiS refuses to allow immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa to the country and says that more decision-making should be moved from Brussels to national capitals.
The party knocks in frustration with liberal values and anti-establishment sentiments that have galvanized far-reachers in other parts of Europe. It promises more Catholic faith and patriotism in public life and more state states in the economy.
“Remember the shameful slogans for last year’s November 11?”, Says Marc Lawson, Central Lawyer, on Twitter on Saturday. “A year later, their authors meet with the president and prime minister instead of a prosecutor.”
Some participants carried banners with religious and anti abortions.
“The organizers of independence March … are great patriots. In our time, the youth was not this patriotic,” said Teresa Radzikowska, a 70-year-old retired from central Poland who participated in the march.
Before the night talks with the government on Friday to hold a joint event, the organizers had said they expected the march to be the biggest long-right event in Europe this year.
Slideshow (5 Images)
A foreign participant said he came to Warsaw because “Poland had not lost its national identity.”
“You have not bent down to Islam and you are not bending to globalism either,” said James Goddard, who traveled from Leicester in central England just for the march.
November 11th, Poland celebrates the establishment of the second Polish Republic in 1918 from territory seized by its eastern and western neighbors in the 1700s, which was made possible by the defeat of Russia, Germany and Austria during the First World War. World leaders gathered in Paris on Sunday to mark the end of the war.
Further reporting by Pawel Sobczak, Kacper Pempel and Karol Witenberg, writing by Justyna Pawlak; Editing Matthew Mpoke Bigg
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