Warsaw Court Nixes City Ban on Far-Right Independence March

WARSAW, Poland (AP) -

A Polish court on Thursday overturned a Warsaw city ban on a march organized by far-right nationalist groups, justifying the decision on constitutional grounds of the freedom of assembly.

The decision by Judge Michal Jakubowski is the latest development surrounding contentious, confusing preparations for an Independence Day march on Sunday in the Polish capital to honor the country’s 100 years of independence.

For a decade, far-right nationalists have been holding marches on the Nov. 11 Independence Day in Warsaw. This year fears of demonstrations of extremism and possible clashes with counter-protesters threatened to overshadow other events on the nation’s centenary calendar.

Last year marchers carried xenophobic banners proclaiming the desire for a “White Europe” that drew international criticism, especially coming only a few months after a violent rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Polish government officials had tried for months to persuade the nationalists to make the Warsaw march this year an inclusive affair involving state officials without any provocative banners but the two sides were unable to agree.