Polish figures condemn allocation of public funds to far-right groups

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The government recently allocated three million zlotys, or some € 660,000, to the Patriotic Fund, overseen by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, which will distribute money to three very problematic groups.

One of them is the association that oversees the annual independence march, which has frequently displayed anti-Semitic sentiments.

Two other groups that will receive funding are the All-Polish Youth and the National Guard Association.

One of the main organizers of the Independence March is far-right activist Robert Bakiewicz of the Fascist National Radical Camp, who seeks an “ethnically homogeneous” Poland. Bakiewicz called the Jews the “fifth column”.

The national-radical camp could legally be called fascist, the Polish Supreme Court ruled earlier this year.

During the 2017 independence march, organized by Bakiewicz and the National Radical Camp, protesters called for “a Poland without Jews” and “Jews outside Poland”. The Israeli Foreign Ministry filed a complaint with the Polish authorities.

The marches are also frequently used to express opposition to Jewish claims for reparations for property belonging to Jews that was confiscated by the Polish Communist regime after World War II.

Last year, a truck with a banner saying “No to Jewish demands” participated in the march.

All-Polish Youth was founded in the 1920s as an ultra-nationalist and anti-Semitic organization. It has been reinstated more recently as a right-wing, Catholic nationalist and anti-gay group associated with the Far Right National Movement Party.

Polish youth activists last week threw tons of bricks and other debris outside the Israeli embassy in Warsaw to protest Israel’s criticism of Polish legislation that would hamper demands Jewish property restitution.

Also last week, 160 Polish public and academic figures signed a petition calling on Culture and National Heritage Minister Piotr Gliński not to fund these groups.

The signatories included Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, director Agnieszka Holland, veterans of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 and dozens of journalists, intellectuals, academics and personalities involved in the Polish arts.

“Are you ready to take responsibility for the fact that public money will be used – as demonstrated by the many years of practice of the Independence March organized by Robert Bakiewicz – for violence, intimidation, training? to the handling of weapons, pyrotechnics, property fire, propaganda material promoting hate speech and the extermination of “enemies of the fatherland?” »», They wrote.

“We strongly urge all people of good will, especially those with socially recognized achievements, to use their authority to publicize the shameful fact that our state funds initiatives that openly promote homophobia, religious and ethnic hatred. .

“We all have the right to live in a country that will not look like the darkest pages in 20th century history,” the signatories wrote.

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