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Poland nationalist march attracts thousands on independence day


By Matthew Day, for CNN

(CNN) -- Tens of thousands of people joined nationalist marchers waving flags and burning flares in Warsaw on Saturday during protests held on Poland's independence day.

Protesters carried banners that read "White Europe, Europe must be white," and "Pray for an Islamic Holocaust."

Some wore masks and waved red and white Polish flags, chanting "Death to enemies of the homeland," and "Catholic Poland, not secular."

Police estimate that 60,000 people took part in the nationalist demonstration. While the vast majority were Poles from all over the country, other protesters came from all over Europe.

One of the lead organizations behind the nationalists march is the National Radical Camp, which has previously taken to the streets to protest against Muslim immigration,gay rights, the EU and anything it considers undermines Polish Catholic values.

While support for the group remains small, its critics argue that the Polish government, which has struck a nationalistic tone and linked immigrants to crime and disease, has fostered an atmosphere of intolerance and xenophobia that has emboldened it.

Earlier on Saturday, the Polish capital had seen a far smaller demonstration by groups condemning the protesters' hijacking of Polish independence day, which falls on November 11.

The day celebrates the re-birth of Poland in November 1918, 123 years after the Prussian, Habsburg and Russian empires carved up Poland among themselves and erased it from the map of Europe.

But in the past few years, the holiday has been overshadowed by the far-right march and fears of violence.

The-CNN-Wire

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