Published: Mon, November 13, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Nationalists, anti-facists march through Warsaw on Poland's Independence Day

Nationalists, anti-facists march through Warsaw on Poland's Independence Day

Police said the eighth annual independence day rally from the far-right National Radical Camp drew an estimated 60,000 people - a staggering spike for an event that used to draw only a few hundred people after starting in 2009.

'We are proud that so many Poles have chose to take part in a celebration connected to the Independence Day holiday, ' he said. This time the traditional torchlight procession of nationalists in Warsaw only has, according to police estimates, at least 100 thousand people.

Marchers were seen with flares and smoke bombs, while some wore balaclavas and carried bottles beer.

There were also many families and older people in attendance.

They were campaigning for a "white Europe", as well as spreading messages about "standing against liberals" and "defending Christian values".

Today Poland celebrates its National Independence Day, 99 years since the end of its partition between Russia, Prussia, and Austria after the First World War.

It attracted far-right agitators from elsewhere in Europe, including Tommy Robinson from the United Kingdom and Roberto Fiore from Italy.

"It was a handsome sight", Mariusz Błaszczak, Poland's interior minister, said.

But many argued the day had been "hijacked" by racist groups, with an "anti-fascist" counter-protest attracting around 2,000 people.

"I'd say some people here do have extreme views, maybe even 30% of those marching, but 70% are simply walking peacefully, without shouting any fascist slogans", he told the AFP news agency.

However, Andy Eddles, a Brit who has lived in Poland for 27 years, said: "I'm shocked that they're allowed to demonstrate on this day".

Pawel, 21, from the southern city of Rzeszow said he joined the march because "religion is important in our country and we don't want Islamisation of Europe or especially Poland".

The accident, which claimed the lives of several high-ranking Polish government officials (including his brother, then-President Lech Kaczyński) has become a rallying point for right-wing conspiracy theorists who believe that it was a deliberate act by Russian Federation.

The events that take place on November 11 in Poland have increasingly been characterized in the past years not only by an assertion of Polish national self-determination, but also a rejection of the European Union's globalist mindset.

'Independence Day has always been and will continue to be a celebration of all Poles and not just one party, ' Mr Tusk said.

Poland was the only European Union country to vote against Mr Tusk's reelection as European Union president in March. Warsaw and Brussels have been increasingly at odds on a series of issues, including the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) government's controversial court reforms.

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