60000 nationalists take to the streets for Poland's independence day celebrations

60000 nationalists take to the streets for Poland's independence day celebrations

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.

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

Police estimate that 60,000 people took part in the nationalist demonstration.

There were also many families and older people in attendance.

The remnants of the movement today can been seen in the form of the National Movement (RN) party, founded in 2012, associated with several nationalist and far-right movements across the nation, including the All-Polish Youth as well as the libertarian Real Politics Union.

Prior to 1918, Poland had been partitioned among its neighbours and wiped off the map of Europe for more than 120 years.

European Council President Donald Tusk, who is a former Polish prime minister and a political opponent of the current Warsaw government, was in Poland for Independence Day celebrations.

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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.

The slogan for Saturday's march, "We want God", comes from an old Polish nationalist song. Trump praised Poland for what he described as the country's defense of Western civilization. Speakers spoke of standing against liberals and defending Christian values. "This is what I have come here to tell all my positively-thinking compatriots: you are not alone, we are very many, and the personal independence of each and every one of you is the best guarantee of Poland's independence". "But they use Christianity as a kind of identity marker, which is mostly about being anti-Islam now".

Reports indicate that not only Poles, but also other Europeans participated in the events, including popular Eurosceptic and nationalist figureheads, such as Tommy Robinson from Britain and Roberto Fiore from Italy. The government seemed eager to downplay the fascist side of the demonstration.

Poland's interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak called the event a "beautiful sight". "We are proud that so many Poles have chose to take part in a celebration connected to the Independence Day holiday".

Across the city a smaller counter protest was held by anti-facist groups who marched with banners reading "together against racism" and "rainbow is the new black". Organizers kept the two groups apart to prevent violence. The second group carried banners saying "Stop Fascism".

"I'm shocked that they're allowed to demonstrate on this day". Nonetheless, anti-migrant views run high. There are complaints that wages remain much lower than in the West while inequality has grown since the end of communism.

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