Poland defends Warsaw march calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews, Muslims

Poland defends Warsaw march calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews, Muslims

Polish authorities stopped far short of condemning a massive nationalist rally in the capital Warsaw on Saturday, calling the event, which was marred by anti-Semitic and Islamophobic chants, an expression of patriotism. The event, which was organized by far-right groups under the "We want God" slogan, was described as one of the biggest nationalist gatherings in Europe in recent years.

During the march - the largest Polish Independence Day event in years - far-right demonstrators were heard chanting "Pure Poland, Jew-free Poland", and "Jews out of Poland", while carrying banners with slogans such as, "White Europe of brotherly nations".

Kaczynski called the far-right slogans at Saturday's march "extremely bad, completely unacceptable", but insisted they were "very marginal" incidents. "The growth of xenophobic nationalism in Poland is becoming more unsafe, and we urge the government to condemn unequivocally the phenomenon and take appropriate action to counter it".

However, despite the mayhem in the capital, the Polish leadership hardly found anything negative to say about the gathering. "We are proud that so many Poles chose to take part in a celebration connected to the Independence Day holiday".

Israel's Foreign Ministry urged the Polish government to "take action against the organizers" of the march. The gathering was "a great celebration of Poles united around the common values of freedom and loyalty to an independent homeland", the ministry said. On Sunday night its Foreign Ministry said that the event was a unsafe "parade of extremist and racist elements".

Duda was echoed by the powerful leader of Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, widely regarded as Poland's defacto powerbroker. Kaczynski went on to suggest that the racist manifestations were a "provocation". "History teaches us that we must act against hatred and racism as quickly and as determinedly as possibly", the ministry stated.