By VANESSA GERA, Associated Press
WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Three people were arrested in Poland in connection with an anti-Semitic protest last week in which far-right participants shouted “Death to the Jews!” », Declared Monday the Minister of the Interior of the country.
The protest took place last Thursday, Poland’s Independence Day, in the central Polish city of Kalisz. Participants also burned a copy of a medieval document that offered Jews protection and rights to Polish lands.
Poland’s Jewish community said in a statement Monday that Polish Jews “have not known such contempt and hatred expressed in public for years.”
“Poland is our homeland. We are both Jews and Poles. We ask, however, why our right to consider Poland as our homeland is questioned more and more often and more and more openly? Said the Union of Jewish Religious Communities.
Political cartoons about world leaders
Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski announced the arrests on Twitter, saying “there is no consent to anti-Semitism and hatred based on nationality, religion or ethnicity”.
“Faced with the organizers of the shameful event in Kalisz, the Polish state must show its cruelty and determination,” Kaminski said.
Polish authorities wondered why it had taken so long to make the arrests, given that the incident was widely reported in Poland.
One of those arrested is Wojciech Olszanski, a far-right activist also known as Aleksander Jablonowski, who said while burning the copy of the Statute of Kalisz, the 13th century document outlining the rights of Jews: ” We are abolishing the rights of the Jews on this land. ! “and” Death to the enemies of Poland! “
The crowd responded with chants of “Death! Death! Death!”
Another is Piotr Rybak, who was sentenced to prison for burning the effigy of a Jew. In 2019, he visited the former Auschwitz death camp on the anniversary of his liberation and said: “It is time to fight against the Jews and to liberate Poland from them !
The public expression of hatred occurred during a holiday celebrating Poland’s independence, a day that in recent years has been overshadowed by far-right groups.
The statement by the Jewish community noted that the Polish state and local governments have “given up their role as the main organizer of the Independence Day celebrations, leaving the initiative to be taken up by far-right organizations. who use town halls to preach anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and homophobic words.
“Unfortunately, some of these organizations benefit from public funding,” he said.
Polish President Andrzej Duda strongly condemned Sunday’s anti-Semitic incident, while residents of the city of Kalisz staged a protest on Sunday under the slogan “Kalisz – without fascism”.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid welcomed the “unequivocal condemnation” of the Polish authorities and said that the Jewish people “expect the Polish government to act uncompromisingly against those who took part. to this shocking manifestation of hatred ”.
Poland was for centuries one of the friendliest European lands for Jews, with kings offering them protection after fleeing persecution on German lands.
Poland’s Jewish community became the largest in Europe in the 20th century, with some 3.3 million Jews on the eve of World War II. Most were murdered by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. Today the community is very small, numbering in the thousands.
Copyright 2021 The Associated press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.