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Nationalists, anti-facists march through Warsaw on Poland's Independence Day

Nationalists, anti-facists march through Warsaw on Poland's Independence Day

Poland celebrates this Independence Day from the old powers on November 11, the same day as the Armistice of 1918 that ended the war.

Some 15,000 people took part in a 10-kilometre fun run in Warsaw, won by Arkadiusz Gardzielewski with a time of 30:03, while Ewa Jagielska was fastest among the women with a time of 34:38.

An estimated 60,000 people turned out in Warsaw for the march, with many chanting "clean blood", "pure Poland" and "white Poland" and carrying posters with the words: "white Europe of brotherly nations". The demonstration has in recent years become the foremost Independence Day event in Poland, overshadowing official state observances and other patriotic events.

Some participants marched under the slogan "We Want God", words from an old Polish religious song that the USA president, Donald Trump, quoted during a visit to Warsaw earlier this year.

Many people in the crowd told local and global media they were not part of the radical-nationalist groups, but were attending in celebration of Independence Day.

The nationalist marchers carried Polish flags and threw red smoke bombs.

Far-right leaders from other European countries also took part: among them were Tommy Robinson from Britain and Roberto Fiore from Italy. Many were young men, some with their faces covered or with beer bottles in hand, but families and older Poles also participated.

Speakers spread messages about "standing against liberals" and "defending Christian values" during the march.

The Polish Interior Minister, Mariusz Błaszczak, called the event a "beautiful sight".

Among them was a rally organized by the far-right National-Radical Camp (ONR), the National Movement (RN) and the All Polish Youth (MW), which trace their roots back to anti-Semitic groups active before the Second World War.

An "anti-fascist" counter-protest attracted about 2,000 people. Despite the common slogan "We want God", the protesters set up quite aggressively.

The two groups were kept separate by police.

'For me it's important to support the anti-fascist coalition, and to support fellow democrats, who are under pressure in Poland today'.

'Independence Day has always been and will continue to be a celebration of all Poles and not just one party, ' Mr Tusk said. "No politician in Poland has ever had nor will ever have a monopoly on patriotism", Mr Tusk said as he arrived at the airport in Warsaw. Relations between PiS and Tusk have been so tense that Poland was the only country to vote against his re-election as European Union president in March.

The conservative tack taken by the country's ruling PiS party, including anti-migrant and pro-logging reforms, has put it increasingly at odd with Brussels.

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