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Poland: scuffle over cross outside government building

August 04, 2010

Angry protests erupted in Warsaw on August 3 when government officials—acting on orders from President-elect Bronislaw Komorowski—moved to dismantle a cross that had been erected outside the presidential palace in memory of the late President Lech Kaczynski.

Police held back hundreds of protesters and made several arrests, but ultimately decided to postpone the removal of the cross. A spokesman for the government said that the “level of aggression is too high” for the move. The government had planned to move the cross to a nearby Catholic church. The cross, which was erected by supporters of President Kaczynski after the Polish leader died in an April plane crash, has become the focus of a dispute over Church influence in Poland. Conservative Catholics who had formed the backbone the late president’s political support—including Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of the deceased leader, who is now head of the opposition party—had urged leaving the cross in place. President-elect Komorowski, who favors a more secular approach to political leadership, said that the religious symbol was inappropriate outside a government building.


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