Polish authorities stopped far short of condemning a massive nationalist rally in the capital Warsaw on Saturday, calling the event, which was marred by anti-Semitic and Islamophobic chants, an expression of patriotism.
The event, which drew 60,000 marchers, was held on Saturday to celebrate the country's Independence Day.
An estimated 60,000 people participated in the "March of Independence", an annual event organized by far-right groups in Poland that attracted many more people than a year ago, including some from other countries.
The banners displayed by the protestors, among others, depicted a falanga, a far-right symbol dating to the 1930s, and the Celtic cross used by white supremacists.
However, despite the mayhem in the capital, the Polish leadership hardly found anything negative to say about the gathering.
Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak called the large demonstration "a handsome sight", adding that "we are proud that so many Poles have chose to take part in a celebration connected to the Independence Day holiday". "We are proud that so many Poles made a decision to take part in a celebration connected to the Independence Day holiday".
AJC, an organization long involved in Poland and steadfastly devoted to fostering strong links among the U.S., Israel, Poland, and world Jewry, calls on the Polish government to counter all forms of xenophobia and racially-motivated hatred through concerted action. The gathering was "a great celebration of Poles united around the common values of freedom and loyalty to an independent homeland", the ministry said.
Duda was echoed by the powerful leader of Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, widely regarded as Poland's defacto powerbroker. "Those who want to harm Poland know how to do it", he said, without specifying who he was talking about.
"This is a risky march instigated by extremists and racists...." "We hope that Polish authorities will act against the organizers".