Tens of thousands of Polish nationalists took to the streets of Warsaw for an annual far-right march commemorating the country’s independence, with many displaying white power symbols and waving red flares and tiki torches.
Marchers carried Polish flags and chanted “No to the European Union” and “God, honor, homeland!” among other ultra-nationalist slogans. Black-hooded demonstrators held up banners calling for a “Polish Intifada” and denouncing zionism.
The marchers were out in force to commemorate the 1918 establishment of the second Polish republic, formed in the aftermath of World War I from parts of Germany, Austria and Russia.
Participants, gathered in central Warsaw, were warned by organizer Robert Bakiewicz that the world has “abandoned God and Christianity” and Poland will die “as the nations of western Europe are dying,” Reuters reported.
The march also drew anti-abortion and anti-LGBT activists, with some demonstrators chanting in support of the “regular family,” the Notes From Poland website r
Anti-immigration was another major theme of the event, with Ziemowit Przebitkowski of the ultra-nationalist All-Polish Youth group telling Poles that it was important to foster “national morals” and stop mass immigration.
The so-called independence march has grown to attract the attention and participation of far-right groups and figures from around the world. This year, activists from the far-right Italian Forza Nuova group and hardline activists from Hungary also took part.
#Varsavia 300 mila patroti polacchi oggi in piazza.
Le nostre bandiere sventolano a fianco del movimento MW, che ha di recente ottenuto 5 deputati.
Presto azione in comune in Italia, FN sempre con i patrioti polacchi.
Meanwhile, a smaller anti-fascist protest organized by left-wing groups took place along the route of the main march, with protesters holding a large banner reading “constitution” — a symbol of opposition to the current right-wing nationalist government. “Nazis be gone,” read another opposition banner.
As well as the main Independence March, which is organised by the far right, there is also a much smaller anti-fascist march taking place nearby in Warsaw, organised by left-wing groups.
Poland is increasingly polarized since the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party took power four years ago promising a revival of patriotism and traditional Catholic values. PiS has been accused of turning a blind eye to growing ultra-nationalism and anti-Semitism.
Polish President Andrzej Duda made an appeal for unity on Monday, calling for “one common homeland, beyond all divisions” but acknowledging that “different ideologies and beliefs” are allowed in a free democratic Poland.
This year’s event was considerably smaller than last year’s, which marked the centenary of Poland’s independence and saw about 200,000 people participate, including Duda himself.