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60000 protesters disrupt Poland independence day events
13 November 2017, 01:46 | Darnell Patrick
“It has become so much easier for people to say things they would never have said openly over the last 25 years,” he said
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.
Several rallies have taken place in Poland in the last couple years, in which hundreds of thousands of people had participated, majority criticizing the European Union's and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's unpopular decision to de-facto open the continents borders to millions of asylum seekers and, by effect, illegal immigrants.
The nationalist marchers carried Polish flags and threw red smoke bombs.
Some of the ideas portrayed were in support of Polish Catholic values, with slogans such as "We Want God" and "Catholic Poland, not secular".
It attracted far-right agitators from elsewhere in Europe, including Tommy Robinson from the United Kingdom 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.
'We are proud that so many Poles have made a decision to take part in a celebration connected to the Independence Day holiday, ' he said.
The Polish Interior Minister, Mariusz Błaszczak, called the event a "beautiful sight".
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Demonstrators carried banners that read "White Europe, Europe must be white", and "Pray for an Islamic Holocaust". Despite the common slogan "We want God", the protesters set up quite aggressively.
"I'm shocked that they're allowed to demonstrate on this day".
"For me it's important to support the anti-fascist coalition, and to support fellow democrats, who are under pressure in Poland today", he said.
An official ceremony was hosted by President Andrzej Duda.
But main march participant Kamil Staszalek warned against making generalisations and said he was marching to "honour the memory of those who fought for Poland's freedom".
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.
Tusk's appearance comes at a time when Warsaw has been increasingly at odds with Brussels because of the PiS government's controversial court reforms, large-scale logging in a primeval forest and refusal to welcome migrants.
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