Warsaw, Poland – More than 200,000 people are estimated to have taken part in the March of Independence in central Warsaw on Sunday, after a last-minute agreement was struck between senior politicians and the nationalist event’s far-right organisers, says The Guardian.
Banned by Warsaw’s outgoing mayor, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, the nationalist march was then given the go-ahead by a Warsaw court, ending a week marred by controversy. which cast a shadow on the celebrations.
According to the BBC, President Andrzej Duda had said he wanted the march to be “a proud and joyful celebration” and warned that anyone carrying offensive banners or chanting the types of slogans heard at last year’s event would be “dealt with by the police”.
Last year’s march, which attracted an estimated 60,000 people, drew widespread criticism and international condemnation for the presence of racist and xenophobic banners and slogans and was marked by instances of violence.
Sunday’s event is said to have been “peaceful”, although white supremacist symbols such as the Celtic cross were present, and some media outlets reported instances of racist chanting. The far-right All-Polish Youth, a co-organiser of the march, posted a video of an EU flag being set on fire, as some people chanted “down with the European Union”.
In the meantime, addressing more than 70 Heads of State, including Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, gathered in Paris to commemorate the centenary of the World War I Armistice, French President Emmanuel Macron urged world leaders to reject nationalism, describing it as a “betrayal of patriotism”.