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Nationalist March Dominates Poland’s Independence Day

Source: New York Times by Megan Specia

Thousands of far-right nationalists marched through Poland’s capital, Warsaw, on Saturday, waving red-and-white Polish flags and carrying flares.

The crowd at the march, which coincided with Poland’s Independence Day, commemorating the reinstatement of sovereignty at the end of World War I, far outnumbered those at official government events earlier in the day.

Many participants held up Christian iconography.

The annual march has become something of a magnet for extremist groups. Credit: Adam Stepien / Agencja Gazeta, via Reuters

But others held banners of white supremacy, including one that read “White Europe of brotherly nations,” according to The Associated Press. Still others carried signs equating Islam with terrorism, waved signs denouncing same-sex marriage, and carried banners of the National Radical Camp, an anti-Semitic group founded before World War II on extreme nationalist values.

Some of the marchers carried the flags of far-right groups like the National Radical Camp. Credit: Adam Stepien / Agencja Gazeta, via Reuters

The annual march has become something of a magnet for white supremacists and far-right groups from across Europe since it began in 2009.

As Poland has moved further to the right, the rally has grown. The right-wing Law and Justice Party, which was voted into power in 2015, has moved the nation from liberal European cooperation to an inward-facing agenda.

The slogan for Saturday’s march, “We want God,” comes from an old Polish nationalist song. President Trump quoted the phrase during his visit this year.

The crowd at a counterdemonstration, with the slogan “For our freedom and yours,” was greatly outnumbered. Some participants held umbrellas that spelled out “Stop Facism” and others carried a banner that read “Rainbow is the new black.”

A counterdemonstration was much smaller. Credit: Marcin Obara / European Pressphoto Agency