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Extremism under control in Poland: official

Despite reports by some media outlets, extremism is under control in Poland and only a few minor incidents were reported during an Independence Day march in Warsaw on November 11, an official has said.

In an opinion piece for the Washington Examiner, Stanisław Żaryn, a spokesman for Poland’s security services chief, said that some media outlets “published a distorted picture” of the march suggesting that it was dominated by far-right groups.

“This is not what happened in Warsaw that day,” Żaryn said in his opinion piece, which was published on Sunday.

He cited Poland’s police commander as saying that officers reported a total of six incidents during the march: “broken wing mirrors of a few cars parked along the march’s route, a damaged facade of a small shop, and one beating.”

“Also, a European Union flag was burned, and a number of participants used pyrotechnics while in the crowd,” Żaryn said.

He added that the police were looking for those responsible for these incidents.

“Their pictures have been posted online, and some of them have already been found and held liable for their actions.

“Contrary to what some media outlets have suggested, the march’s participants did not use slogans or messages that breached the law. This was ensured by the experts commissioned by the police to monitor slogans and banners appearing in the crowds. Slogans of radical nature, if any, were incidental occurrences.”

The scale of the incidents was marginal, Żaryn also said, given that an estimated 250,000 people took part in the march and that it was the biggest mass event in Warsaw in years.

Żaryn argued that “these unfortunate mishaps” should not overshadow what was otherwise “a joyful and celebratory gathering.”

This year’s National Independence Day was “a great holiday for all of the Poles and their great success,” Żaryn said in the Washington Examiner.

He added that the country’s Internal Security Agency (ABW) and other special services supervised by Minister Mariusz Kamiński “identified individuals whose participation in the march could have posed a threat to public order.”

According to Żaryn, the ABW, working hand in hand with the police, detained around 100 individuals “with ties to radical nationalist groups.”

These people are “linked to groups that had planned to come to Warsaw with the aim of disrupting the march,” according to Żaryn.

Moreover, the ABW prepared for Independence Day by compiling a list of 400 extremists from various European countries “who could have tried to come to Poland to disrupt festivities,” Żaryn said.

He added that, as a result of cooperation between the ABW and the Polish Border Guard, most of these individuals were stopped at the border. Many others decided not to come to Poland at all “faced with a firm stance of Polish institutions,” he argued.

“The extent of the state services’ activities has shown that in Poland, there is zero tolerance for violent, radical groups that spread totalitarian propaganda,” according to Żaryn.

“These groups are marginal in Poland and are dealt with by authorities in a determined manner,” he said.

Żaryn also cited a report by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights according to which he said the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Poland has dropped significantly for a second year in a row.

“Germany and France now have more anti-Semitic incidents than Poland,” Żaryn said.

Poland on November 11 celebrated 100 years of regaining independence after more than a century of foreign rule.

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