60000 nationalists take to the streets for Poland's independence day celebrations


Tens of thousands of nationalist protesters disrupted Poland's independence day events Saturday, waving flags and burning flares as they marched down the streets of Warsaw.

The nationalist marchers carried Polish flags and threw red smoke bombs.

An estimated 60,000 people marched through Poland last night, carrying far-right symbols and chanting racist slurs.

A man walks with a bloody lip as demonstrators yell at him outside the location where Richard Spencer, an avowed white nationalist and spokesperson for the so-called alt-right movement, is delivering a speech on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, U.S., October 19, 2017.

Among those slogans were: "White Europe of Brotherly Nations", "Europe will be white or uninhabited", "Clear blood, sober mind", and "No to Islam".

There were also many families and older people in attendance.

The march has become one of the largest such demonstration in Europe and drew far-right leaders from elsewhere in Europe, including Tommy Robinson from Britain and Roberto Fiore from Italy. Several of the speakers called on people to stand against liberals and defend Christian values.

Supporters of the country's governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party took part in the annual march, which takes place alongside other events. State broadcaster TVP, for example, called it a "great march of patriots", making it seem like the march was about Poles expressing love for their homeland.

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Across the city a smaller counter protest was held by anti-facist groups who marched with banners reading "together against racism" and "rainbow is the new black".

Mariusz Blaszczak, the country's interior minister, labelled the event as a "beautiful sight". Organisers kept the two groups apart to prevent violence. The second group carried banners saying "Stop Fascism".

'We are proud that so many Poles have chose to take part in a celebration connected to the Independence Day holiday, ' he said.

"I'm shocked that they're allowed to demonstrate on this day".

An "anti-fascist" counter-protest attracted about 2,000 people. "For me it's important to support the anti-fascist coalition and to support fellow democrats, who are under pressure in Poland today".

Kamil Staszalek, 30, said he was there to "honour the memory of those who fought for Poland's freedom".

All living former Polish presidents attended, as well as European Union president Donald Tusk.

Relations between Brussels and Warsaw have worsened in recent months because of the PiS government's controversial court reforms, large-scale logging in a primeval forest and refusal to welcome migrants. Phrases such as "pure Poland, white Poland" were shouted during the march.