Published: Mon, November 13, 2017
Technology | By Russell Knight

'White Europe': 60000 nationalists march on Poland's Independence Day

Some participants marched under the slogan "We Want God", words from an old Polish religious song that the United States president, Donald Trump, quoted during a visit to Warsaw earlier this year.

An estimated 60,000 people turned out in Warsaw for the march, with many chanting "clean blood", "pure Poland" and "white Poland" and carrying posters with the words: "white Europe of brotherly nations".

Speakers spread messages about "standing against liberals" and "defending Christian values" during the march.

The day celebrates the re-birth of Poland in November 1918, 123 years after the Prussian, Habsburg and Russian empires carved up Poland among themselves and erased it from the map of Europe.

Some of the nationalists who participated in the road flare-heavy rally were seen holding black, white and red Polish Falangist flags, a variant of the National Radical Camp Falanga, a Polish nationalist movement, somewhat associated with Francisco Franco's Falangism in the 1930s.

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As Poland has moved further to the right, the rally has grown.

An official ceremony was hosted by President Andrzej Duda.

Rafal Pankowski, head of the anti-extremist association Never Again, says that despite the reference to God, the march shouldn't be viewed as inspired by religious beliefs.

"As I stand here today before this incredible crowd, this faithful nation, we can still hear those voices that echo through history", Trump said in his July 6 address in Krasiński Square. "But they use Christianity as a kind of identity marker, which is mostly about being anti-Islam now".

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

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American white supremacist Richard Spencer was scheduled to speak at a conference in Warsaw on Friday - until the Polish government said he wasn't welcome in the country. He added: "We are proud that so many Poles have made a decision to take part in a celebration connected to the Independence Day holiday". There will also be an anti-government gathering on Plac Szczepański at 13:30 organized by the Committee for the Defense of Democracy (KOD), who state seemingly without irony that "no one has the right to use [Independence Day] for political purposes".

Mariusz Blaszczak, the country's interior minister, labelled the event as a "beautiful sight".

Some 2,000 people gathered to condemn the nationalists and organizers largely kept the two groups apart.

"I am convinced that the Independence Day can be celebrated with a smile on our faces and with joy in our hearts because there really is much to celebrate and much be proud of - without hostile chants and without clenched fists", he told journalists on Saturday morning.

The recent emergence of Central Europe as a crucible for neo-fascism carries a number of paradoxes.

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Few of the Muslim refugees and migrants who have arrived in Europe since 2015 have sought to settle in that part of the continent, preferring Germany and other richer countries in the West.

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