Thousands of far-right nationalists marched through Warsaw today, marring the country’s Independence Day celebrations.
The march organised by far-right groups was one of a number of marches organised in the Polish capital, which was celebrating Poland’s rebirth as an independent nation 99 yeats ago after it was wiped off the map for 123 years.
President Andrzej Duda and European Union president Donald Tusk, himself a former Polish prime minister presided over a formal state ceremony earlier in the day.
Yet today’s Independence Day march was the largest in recent years, overshadowing other state and patriotic events.
The far-rights presence at the event was visible for all to see, with some holding up xenophobic banners and chanting questionable slogans. One banner read ‘White Europe of brotherly nations’.
A demonstrator interviewed by state television TVP said he was on the march to ‘remove Jewry from power.’
Some marched under a banner which read ‘We Want God’, words from an old Polish song which Donald Trump quoted during his visit to the country earlier this year. Others spoke about standing up to liberals and defending Christianity.
Vast swathes of the crowd marched with the red-and-white flag while others let off red flares and firecrackers during their march. A banner depicting a falanga, a far-right symbol dating back to the 1930s, was also unfurled by a section of the crowd.
Authorities also had to ensure that anti-fascist protesters were kept away from far-right demonstrators over fears their could be violent outbreaks.
Ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski noted that Poland had not always been fully independent since 1918, a reference to Germany’s occupation during World War II and the decades spent under Moscow’s direction during the Cold War.
Still, he said: ‘The Polish state was internationally recognized the whole time and that is a great achievement.’