Poles strip immunity from far-right lawmaker who extinguished Hanukkah candles

Parliamentary vote paves way for charges against Grzegorz Braun, who described Jewish festival as ‘satanic’; lawmaker claims accusations against him ‘inconsistent’ with truth

Far-right Polish lawmaker Grzegorz Braun speaks to parliament in Warsaw, Poland, on December 11, 2023. (AP Photo/ Czarek Sokolowski)
Far-right Polish lawmaker Grzegorz Braun speaks to parliament in Warsaw, Poland, on December 11, 2023. (AP Photo/ Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s parliament has voted to remove the immunity from prosecution of a lawmaker who used a fire extinguisher to put out Jewish Hanukkah candles in the country’s parliament in December, an incident that caused international outrage.

The vote opens the way for prosecutors to press charges against Grzegorz Braun from the far-right Confederation party for seven acts committed during 2022 and 2023, including the incident involving the candles.

“There is no reason to protect him using immunity… We know what he did and it was not acceptable,” said Agnieszka Pomaska, a lawmaker from the largest grouping in Poland’s coalition government, Civic Coalition (KO).

The largest opposition party, the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS), also voted in favor of removing Braun’s immunity.

Warsaw District Prosecutor Mariusz Dubowski had told a parliamentary committee that Braun would face charges including destruction of property, violation of bodily integrity, and insulting objects of religious worship, the state-run news agency PAP reported.

After extinguishing the candles in the parliament on December 12, Braun took to the podium, where he described Hanukkah as “satanic” and said he was restoring “normality.”

Asked later if he was ashamed of his action, he said: “Those who take part in acts of satanic worship should be ashamed.”

Braun, who also made pro-Russian statements in the past, had gained notoriety even before the Hanukkah incident, with stunts such as dumping a Christmas tree decorated in the colors of the European Union and Ukraine in the bin and damaging a microphone during a talk by a Holocaust historian.

Rabbi Shalom Ber Stambler lights Hanukkah candles minutes before Polish ultra far-right lawmaker Grzegorz Braun used a fire extinguisher to put them out, Warsaw, December 12, 2023. (Wojtek Radwanski / AFP)

He rejected the prosecutor’s accusations against him and said on Wednesday they were “inconsistent with the actual situation and the material truth.”

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