Red flares issuing billows of smoke, national flags and political slogans topped the thousands of nationalists marching through the streets of Poland’s capital Warsaw to mark the country’s Independence Day.
Crowds of Poles descended on the capital to celebrate the 78th anniversary of the re-establishment of the Second Polish Republic resulting from the collapsed central and eastern European empires in the aftermath of the First World War, which ended with the Armistice of Nov. 11, 1918.
One of the largest marches through Warsaw was organized by the National Movement _ a far-right Polish political organization _ and the March of Independence Association under the slogan “Poland as a bastion of Europe.”
There was a nationalist, anti-globalization and Islamophobic streak to these commemorations as the march brought together several fascist and neo-Nazi groups.
Several people used the occasion to sport banners depicting images of the Islamic Prophet Mohammad with the words “not welcome,” t-shirts with right-wing insignia and several participants performing the open-palmed fascist salute.
Counter marches under the banner “For our freedom and yours” were organized by the anti-fascist coalition in Warsaw and put emphasis on gay rights, equality and leftist politics.
Earlier on Friday, high-ranking politicians, including former President of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski, held separate marches organized by the Committee for the Defense of Democracy (KOD), a civic platform that opposes the ruling national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party.