politics

Leader of Warsaw Seeks to Ban Fringe Party After Racist Rally

Demonstrators burn flares and wave flags during a march in Warsaw, Nov. 11.

Photographer: Czarek Sokolowski/AP Photo

The president of Poland’s capital, Warsaw, is seeking to outlaw a far-right group after white nationalists paraded in the city center during a weekend rally.

Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, a three-term city president from the opposition Civic Platform party, appealed to the national government to ban the Radical National Front, known by its Polish acronym ONR. People waving the party’s symbol, the green-and-white Falanga flag, took part in Saturday’s march at which throngs of white nationalists chanted racist slogans. The group, which was formed in the 1930s, has advocated "Catholic totalitarianism."

Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz

Photographer: Andrew Cowie/AFP via Getty Images

“Once again, I appeal for steps that would stop slogans such as ‘Poland is for Poles,”’ Gronkiewicz-Waltz said in an open letter in which she appealed to the government to start the process of outlawing the ONR. “We are at the center of Europe, and everyone in our country has the right to feel worthy and safe.”

The nation’s annual Independence Day march on Saturday became global news when masked protesters marched in central Warsaw with banners saying “Pure Blood” and “Europe will be white or uninhabited.” In the days since, the government has accused media of focusing on “fringe incidents," said unspecified “provocateurs” stoked unrest and praised the police for restraining 45 people who sought to disrupt the 60,000-strong march. However, no arrests were made for racist behavior, which is illegal in Poland.

Senate Speaker Stanislaw Karczewski, a member of the ruling Law & Justice Party, refused to comment on Tuesday whether he backed banning the ONR, saying the decision would be up to the courts. While ruling-party officials didn’t attend the march on Saturday, Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak called the rally “a beautiful sight.”

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