Tens of thousands of Poles participated in a far-right march in the capital Warsaw on Monday to mark Poland's independence, an annual event that has become a hotbed of friction between nationalists and liberals.
Some chanted "God, honor, motherland!" and "No to the European Union!" and waved Polish flags in red and white. Others lit red flames, covering sections of the parade with smoke.
"We have to go back to our roots. Our world has abandoned God and Christianity," Robert Bakiewicz, head of a marching group, told participants in central Warsaw. "We will die when the nations of Western Europe are dying."
A small group of members of the Italian far-right group Forza Nuova also participated, waving flags.
Poland has become increasingly polarized since the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party came to power in 2015, calling for a revival of Roman patriotic and Catholic values in public life and a rejection of Western liberalism.
Critics say the PiS, which won a second term last month with 44% of the vote, tacitly encouraged groups rooted in the 1930s fascist and anti-Semitic movements organizing the march, although the party denies that.
Last year, on the centenary of Poland's independence, government officials and PiS ally President Andrzej Duda agreed to hold a joint event with the annual march organizers, but they walked the distance, far from any public manifestation of nationalism. .
This year PiS held its own separate events.
"Our nation has a mission and must fulfill it," PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said on Sunday. "Our mission is to uphold everything that is the basis of our Christian civilization. We will follow this path and, if thoughtfully done, will lead us to victory."
On November 11, Poles commemorate the establishment in 1918 of the second Polish republic, created after World War I, from parts of what were then Russia, Germany, and Austria.
Two years ago, the march was marked by racist bands, some of them inscribed "Pure Blood, Clear Mind" or "Europe will be white or uninhabited."
Before PiS came to power, fights between participants and police were not uncommon, but in recent years, more families with children have joined.
Another far-right march in the southwestern city of Wroclaw was closed by city officials due to racist comments 25 minutes after the start.
"The march was disbanded … due to hate speech (anti-Semitism) and the use of pyrotechnics," wrote Wroclaw City Council Vice-President Bartlomiej Ciazynski on Facebook, adding that several hundred People leave in the march.
. (tagsToTranslate) Poland (t) Warsaw (t) PiS