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Warsaw mosque vandalised after world’s largest far-right march

28th Dec 2017

Nadine Osman

Warsaw’s Muslim Cultural Centre (WMCC) was the target of an anti-Muslim attack on November 27, two weeks after the Polish capital hosted the world’s largest far-right march.

Vandals smashed the windows of the mosque one of only two in the city home to 22,000 Muslims. Police are searching for the vandals, who damaged the frame of a large tent erected on the property used by 500 people.

WMCC Coordinator, Ahmad Alattal, said the incident was not unprecedented a bottle was reportedly broken against a window on the front door in October.

“We are constantly receiving threats by email, on social media and also by phone,” Alattal said. Community leader Imam Youssef Chadid blamed the attack on the anti-Muslim atmosphere in the country, insisting he is “100 percent sure this was a racist, anti-Muslim attack”.
Two weeks before the attack on the centre, EU leaders and human rights groups have expressed concerns about the growth of far-right and nationalist movements in Poland. Earlier this month, a march organised by far-right groups attracted 60,000 people.
Some banners at the march contained racist and xenophobic slogans, calling for ‘pureblood, clear mind’ and claiming that ‘Europe will be white or uninhabited.’

Its theme this year was ‘We Want God,’ the title of an old Polish song quoted by Donald Trump on his trip to Poland in July. The annual far-right marches to celebrate Polish independence first began in the late 2000s and were organised by a fringe right-wing group called National Radical Camp.

The first march in 2009 drew 500 demonstrators, but in recent years the events have ballooned. This has coincided with the coming to power of the right-wing Law and Justice Party, which has been stripping away Polish democratic institutions with little opposition since the most recent general election in October of 2015. Though the Government did not organise the march, some Government figures certainly endorsed it.

In October, hundreds of Catholics gathered at the country’s borders to pray for their country. Participants told news outlets the prayer was a demonstration against Islam’s presence in Europe.Police are reviewing security footage that showed at least two assailants targeted WMCC. Research shows that Poles believe that their country is much more Muslim than it actually is. An Ipsos 2016 survey found that Poles estimated that 7 percent of the country’s population is Muslim. In fact, less than 0.1 percent the population is Muslim, according to the Pew Research Center.

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