Court Reverses Ban on Nationalist Independence Day March in Poland’s Capital Warsaw

Court Reverses Ban on Nationalist Independence Day March in Poland’s Capital Warsaw

Nationalist and far-right groups in Poland feel “victorious” after a court has stricken down a liberal mayor’s ban on their Independence Day march.

A court in Warsaw has overturned a ban imposed by the city’s liberal Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz on a march organized by nationalists and far-right groups to mark the 100th anniversary since Polish independence.

The controversial event had been scheduled for Sunday, November 11, when Europe is to celebrate the 100th anniversary since the end of World War I.

For Poland, that is also Independence Day as it had been partition between the empires of Russia, Austria, and Prussia / Germany prior to the war.

The 2017 Independence Day march in Poland’s capital Warsaw, which attracted 60,000 participants, caused international reactions with the raising of what were seen as racist and anti-Muslim slogans, such as “Pure blood, clear mind” and “Europe will be white or uninhabited.”

Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz from the opposition liberal Civic Platform party on Wednesday banned the rally on security grounds.

She also argued that “this is not how the celebrations should look on the 100th anniversary of regaining our independence.”

However, the nationalists and far-right organizers from the National Radical Camp (ONR), who expect up to 250,000 participants to march in Warsaw on Sunday, were quick to challenge the ban in court.

A Warsaw court ruled against the ban on Thursday leading the organizers to declare they felt “victorious.”

“We are victorious, the independence march will take place in Warsaw,” they said on Thursday, as cited by DW.

After the mayor announced her ban on the nationalist-sponsored Independence Day march, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki from the ruling convervative Law and Justice Party (PiS) came together and decided to hold an official, government sponsored Independence Day march.

“We do not accept, we do not allow for those [far-right] groups gathering in Poland under any circumstances,” Morawiecki said.

The government-led march would have followed the same route as the nationalist-sponsored march. However, with the court lifting the mayor’s ban, it was not immediately clear if the procession promised by the government would even take place.

The controversy over Poland’s Independence Day march comes against the backdrop of Warsaw facing criticism by Brussels and Western EU member states over matters such as the rule of law, with European Council President Donald Tusk, Poland’s liberal Prime Minister in 2007 – 2014, warning the country might end up “falling out of the EU”.

(Banner image: Pixabay)

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