Poland Independence Day: Thousands take part in far-right rally

Poland Independence Day: Thousands take part in far-right rally

Poland Independence Day: Thousands take part in far-right rally

Police estimated about 60,000 people showed up for the nationalist march, while about 2,000 counterprotesters - described by some to be "anti-facist" - also attended.

Numerous demonstrators expressed far-right ideas with a number of banners displaying xenophobic and white supremacist ideas, focusing particularly on support for a "white Europe" free of refugees. Others spoke of defending Polish Christian values and standing up to liberals, Britain's The Independent reported.

There were also many families and older people in attendance.

The event attracted far-right activists from across Europe, including Tommy Robinson, the co-founder of the English Defence League, as well as figures from Sweden, Germany, Italy and Slovakia.

The Polish Interior Minister, Mariusz Błaszczak, called the event a "beautiful sight".

Many carried the national white-and-red flag as others set off flares and firecrackers, filling the air with red smoke.

Protesters carry Polish flags and National Radical Camp flags during a rally, organised by far-right, nationalist groups, to mark 99th anniversary of Polish independence in Warsaw. Organisers kept the two groups apart to prevent violence.

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"Independence Day has always been and will continue to be a celebration of all Poles and not just one party". However, there was one incident in which the nationalists pushed and kicked several women who chanted anti-fascism slogans and had a banner saying "Stop Fascism".

The November 11 celebration marks the day in 1918 when Poland regained its independence after having been carved up for 123 years by Russia, Prussia and Austria.

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".

'For me it's important to support the anti-fascist coalition, and to support fellow democrats, who are under pressure in Poland today'.

But main march participant Kamil Staszalek warned against making generalisations and said he was marching to "honour the memory of those who fought for Poland's freedom".

The Warsaw president, Andrzej Duda, hosted a ceremony with all previous presidents, as well as European Union president Donald Tusk, while the march took place, Guardian reports.

"No politician in Poland has ever had nor will ever have a monopoly on patriotism". 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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