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Thousands take part in far-right Independence Day march in Warsaw

Annual march organised by the far-right sees a handful of people carry white supremacist or anti-gay rights banners.

Thousands of people have gathered in Warsaw for an annual march organised by the far-right to mark Independence Day, with a handful carrying white supremacist or anti-gay rights banners and firing off red flares.

Marchers, including families with children – as well as representatives of far-right groups, waved white and red Polish flags and chanted “God, Honour, Homeland” as they walked on Friday through central Warsaw amid a heavy police presence.

The annual event has become a point of friction between far-right groups and supporters of the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on one side, and their liberal opponents on the other.

Since it came to power in 2015, PiS has enacted a host of conservative legislation, including the introduction of a near-total ban on abortion.

Details on a person's clothing are seen as people attend a march marking the 104th anniversary of Polish independence in Warsaw, Poland
Details on a person’s clothing are seen as people attend a march marking the 104th anniversary of Polish independence in Warsaw [Kacper Pempel/Reuters]

 

Critics at home and abroad have accused it of fomenting homophobia during election campaigns.

“Poland will be independent only if everybody’s rights to life are equal and abortion is fully banned,” said one participant, Magorzata Kurzeja, 42, an anti-abortion rights activist.

The Warsaw city hall has attempted several times to prohibit or prevent the march, but the Independence March association, the organiser, has successfully challenged court decisions.

People carry Polish flags and flares during a march to mark the 104th anniversary of Polish independence in Warsaw
People carry Polish flags and flares during a march to mark the 104th anniversary of Polish independence in Warsaw [Kacper Pempel/Reuters]
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