WARSAW, Poland — A former priest involved in Poland’s nationalist movement has been indicted on hate speech and Holocaust denial charges.
The District Prosecutor’s Office in the city of Wrocław, in western Poland, brought three indictments against Jacek Miedlar. Another claims that he insulted the late prime minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki.
Miedlar, who pleaded not guilty, could face up to three years in prison if convicted on the charges.
“Dear ladies and gentlemen, that synagogues can stand here on our Polish soil in Wroclaw, and that Dutkiewicz [mayor of Wroclaw] and Jews can get drunk in them with Talmudic hatred, this is only the result of our tolerance,” Miedlar said at a nationalist march in Wroclaw on November 11, 2017. The prosecutor’s office said the speech incited hatred.
About 3,000 people clapped and chanted slogans such as “Great Independent Poland” in response.
The prosecution also highlighted other statements inciting hatred against Jews and Holocaust denial from 2018. That year, on December 13 in Wroclaw, Miedlar publicly set fire to the portrait of Mazowiecki, calling him a “communist scab” who “never concealed his Jewish-communist Bolshevik inclinations.” Mazowiecki’s son filed a complaint to the prosecutor’s office.
Following his arrest in December 2019 a spokesman for Polish security services said on Twitter that Miedlar was being held in connection with a manifesto that accuses Jews of betraying Poland when the country regained its independence in 1918.
Mazowiecki, who died in 2013, was an anti-communist activist and the first Polish prime minister after the fall of communism. Although he was a Catholic, with no Jewish roots, his political opponents often accused him of Jewish descent to discourage people from voting for him.
Miedlar is considered one of the most controversial and recognizable members of the extreme right in Poland and has a history of spreading anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
In 2017 he was stopped from entering Britain where he had planned to attend an anti-Islam march.
Prosecutors investigated him a few years ago for calling Jews a “cancer” during a sermon but ultimately dropped that case.