WARSAW, Poland – The defendant on trial in Poland for burning an effigy of an ultra-Orthodox Jew said it was supposed to represent Jewish philanthropist George Soros.
Piotr Ryba testified Monday in a Wroclaw municipal court about the effigy burned in the central market of the city in November 2015 at the end of a demonstration against taking in Muslim refugees.
Ryba is accused of “public incitement to hatred on the grounds of religion and nationality to an unspecified group of Jews by burning an effigy.”
Soros, an Israeli-American Jewish billionaire, is not an Orthodox Jew.
“The effigy was prepared by the National Radical Camp,” Ryba told the court, according to reports. “It was to be an effigy of George Soros. I have not seen him. I did not know how Soros looks. I feel manipulated by the whole situation. I was, and I am, a patriot.”
The trial has been ongoing for several weeks.
Aleksander Gleichgewicht, chairman of the Jewish community in Wroclaw, was at the protest as a counterdemonstrator and also testified Monday, the last day of witness testimony. He said he was shocked to discover that the effigy was a stereotypical image of a Hasidic Jew with a black hat, beard, side curls and black clothing, just as Jews were portrayed in Nazi Germany propaganda in the 1930s.
He recalled the situation in Nazi Germany.
“First they burned buildings and effigies, then living people,” Gleichgewicht said.
The next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 21, when a verdict is expected to be delivered.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.