Pol­ish lead­ers, na­tion­al­ists to join in march

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page -

WARSAW, Poland — The Pol­ish gov­ern­ment and the or­ga­niz­ers of a yearly march or­ga­nized by na­tion­al­ist groups have agreed to hold a joint march on the 100th an­niver­sary of Poland’s re­birth as a state on Sun­day.

The an­nounce­ment late Fri­day means Pres­i­dent An­drzej Duda, Prime Min­is­ter Ma­teusz Mo­raw­iecki and other state of­fi­cials will march in the cap­i­tal with groups whose Nov. 11 march last year in­cluded racist ban­ners and white su­prem­a­cist sym­bols.

Michal Dwor­czyk, the head of Mo­raw­iecki’s chan­cellery, tweeted that both sides reached an agree­ment, adding: “Poland won. On Nov. 11 there will be a great com­mu­nal march to cel­e­brate the 100th an­niver­sary of In­de­pen­dence!”

The deal was also an­nounced by the top march or­ga­nizer, Robert Bakiewicz. He is a leader of the Na­tional Radical Camp, which traces its roots to an anti-Semitic move­ment of the 1930s.

The de­vel­op­ment un­der­scores how the rul­ing Law and Jus­tice party has at times sought to em­brace the same base that sup­ports far-right groups. It’s a source of con­tro­versy in Poland, where many are fu­ri­ous at how radical na­tion­al­ists came to dom­i­nate the In­de­pen­dence Day hol­i­day.

Crit­ics ac­cuse the gov­ern­ing au­thor­i­ties of pan­der­ing to the na­tion­al­ists.

Duda said he wants the par­tic­i­pants to walk “un­der white-an­dred flags, un­der our na­tional colors, un­der the motto of a free and in­de­pen­dent Poland.”

The pres­i­dent told Poland’s Nasz Dzi­en­nik news­pa­per he wants all the par­tic­i­pat­ing groups to leave their in­di­vid­ual em­blems and ban­ners ex­press­ing their par­tic­u­lar point of view be­hind.

Ear­lier this year, Bakiewicz led a protest in front of Duda’s palace dur­ing which he called Jews a “fifth col­umn,” an ex­pres­sion im­ply­ing dis­loy­alty to Poland.

Last year’s march in Warsaw was cited in a re­cent Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment res­o­lu­tion that called for mem­ber states to act de­ci­sively against far-right ex­trem­ism. It noted the pres­ence at that march of xeno­pho­bic ban­ners with slo­gans such as “white Europe of broth­erly na­tions,” and flags de­pict­ing the “falanga,” a far-right sym­bol dat­ing to the 1930s.

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