Poland celebrates 99th anniversary of independence
13 November, 2017, 01:45 | Author: Valerie Burke
Some wore masks and waved red and white Polish flags, chanting "Death to enemies of the homeland", and "Catholic Poland, not secular".
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.
Many people in the crowd told local and global media they were not part of the radical-nationalist groups, but were attending in celebration of Independence Day.
Marchers were seen with flares and smoke bombs, while some wore balaclavas and carried bottles beer.
While some participants who rallied in Warsaw did so under atheistic, nationalistic banners, others marched under religious imagery, chanting "We Want God", which alluded to an old Polish religious song that U.S. President Donald Trump had excerpted during his visit to the polish capital earlier this year. Several of the speakers called on people to stand against liberals and defend Christian values.
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 rally appears to have gained the tacit approval of the governing Law and Justice Party, but officials told local and worldwide media that the event met all legal requirements.
At a 6 p.m. news conference, after the march ended, Interior Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said: "There were no incidents". Organizers ensured the two groups remained apart to prevent violence.
The slogan for this year's event was "We Want God", in line with emotional themes of the past rallies.
Andy Eddles, a British language teacher who has been living in Poland for 27 years, said he was "shocked that they're allowed to demonstrate on this day".
Polish resident Kamil Staszalek told AFP that he was marching with fellow countrymen to "honour the memory of those who fought for Poland's freedom".
The Warsaw president, Andrzej Duda, hosted a ceremony with all previous presidents, as well as European Union president Donald Tusk, while the march took place, Guardian reports. For months, Warsaw and the EU have been in a tense standoff over changes to Poland's court system that the European Commission says are undermining the rule of law.
'Independence Day has always been and will continue to be a celebration of all Poles and not just one party, ' Mr Tusk said.
Marches were held in cities across the country, as were regional activities including a "Happy Parade" in Wrocław, southwestern Poland, a "Patriotic Parade" in Kraków, southern Poland, and "National Colours" dip in the Baltic Sea in Szczecin, northwestern Poland.
US President Donald Trump said on Saturday that China was helping to rein in North Korea, but he hoped Beijing would do more. At $32 billion previous year , it was the sixth largest with the United States, though less than a tenth the size of China's.
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