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30/09/2016

Polish extreme right bares its teeth

Justice & Home Affairs

Polish extreme right bares its teeth

Right-wing Polish banner reads "Stop the Islamisation of Europe." [Reuters]

Une manifestation xénophobe en Pologne

Polish far-right organized demonstrations on Saturday (26 September), against the background of the refugee crisis. They succeeded in holding demonstrations in several big cities, but turnout was low. EurActiv Poland reports.

While the number of cities where the demonstrations took place is impressive – in addition to the country’s capital, Warsaw, protests were organised in ?ód?, Katowice, Wroc?aw, Szczecin, Gdynia, Bydgoszcz, and Gorzów Wielkopolski – the number of extremists attending them was below 500. Wroc?aw witnessed the largest of the demonstrations. The Gazeta Wroc?awska reported 4,000 people walking through the city.

The demonstrations were organised by the All-Polish Youth (M?odzie? Wszechpolska),  a far right youth movement which combines nationalist ideas with militant Catholicism. They are known to be among the main driving forces behind the annual Independence March which takes place on the Independence Day (11th November) in Warsaw, which is routinely marred by violence and vandalism of city property.

In addition to the All-Polish Youth, Saturday’s demonstrations were supported by a number of far right groups and parties. Among them was KORWiN, led by the Polish MEP Janusz Korwin-Mikke (non-attached), as well as other smaller organizations.

Protesters brandished signs criticizing the Polish government and the EU for planning to distribute refugees among the member states. They argued that the money would be better spent on people of Polish origin living in former Warsaw Pact countries.

As some of the slogans of the protesters violated Polish law against inciting hatred, Polish police is investigating some of the protesters, who risk paying fines.

Poland is one of the four Visegrad countries, together with the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, which rejected the Commission’s proposal for mandatory refugee quotas.

>>Read: Visegrad summit rejects migrant quotas

But when EU ministers approved a plan to redistibute 120,000 refugees across the Union, Poland didn’t oppose the proposal. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania voted against the decision, but lost under the qualified majority voting procedure.

>>Read: EU backs refugee plan in teeth of east European opposition

Poland is in the middle of an electoral campaign, for parliamentary elections in October. The ruling Civic Platform (PO) party, which has agreed to taking in refugees from other EU member states, is trailing behind the main opposition party Law and Justice (PiS), which is much more sceptical towards the EU plan.