A weekly protest against hatred and nationalism spearheaded by a group of grandmothers in Warsaw has taken social media by storm.
“We protest against the drift that Polish society is witnessing because we see that exclusion and hatred have increased, which can only bring bad things and can even lead to civil war,” grandmother Janina told Efe.
“I have three fantastic grandchildren and I want them to live in a tolerant, just and good society,” she said while holding a banner alongside other protesters calling for “understanding and respect” to avoid a civil conflict.
Many in Poland share Janina’s fears, which have been fueled due to several controversial reforms the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) has implemented since securing a majority in 2015.
Justice reforms, in particular, have sparked concern with Poland and beyond.
These include the remodeling of the Constitutional Court and the method to elect high ranking judges, a mission that will fall on the shoulders of Parliament as of now instead of the judges themselves, something that has blurred the boundaries of the separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers.
Brussels has opened a sanction procedure against the central European country as this reform violates the rule of law, separation of powers and diminishes the Polish democratic structure.
Since PiS emerged victorious in the 2015 elections, protesters took to the streets across the country, where rallies were massive against the government plans to restrict abortion.
However, the grandmothers’ rallies are the first of its kind against the hatred that has brewed within the country.
It was withing this climate of hate that Polish grandmothers consider the mayor of the northern port city of Gdansk, Pawel Adamowicz, who was in favor of hosting refugees and an advocate of the LGBT rights, was publicly assassinated in January.
“The striking thing about this group of grandmothers is that they break the stereotype that older people in Poland protest only for religious reasons or in favor of the Government,” Damian Maliszewski, a journalist and singer who shot a video of these women’s protest told Efe.
The weekly rallies by this group of women which started a couple of months ago in a central Warsaw square went unnoticed until Maliszewski uploaded the video he recorded and which went viral and has been viewed over 800,000 times, the journalist said.
“They are very modern grandmothers, who fight against hate and carry a pin in favor of the LGBT collective, which I found incredible because the widespread belief is that older people are homophobic,” Maliszewski added.
The LGBT community has experienced a spike in hate crime in recent months.
A recent attack was reported in the northeastern city of Bialystok, where a group of extremists violently burst into a Pride rally leaving several people injured in July.
Archbishop of Krakow Marek Jedraszewski recently spoke of the “rainbow plague”, just another example of homophobic rhetoric in Poland, a deeply Catholic country.
“We fight misconceptions that have been instilled in our society.
"We go beyond politics, we protest against hate speech, against events such as the symbolic hanging of members of the European Parliament, for now only one-off events that could lead to a civil war,” Jadwiga another protesting grandmother told Efe.
She is referring to an exhibition of posters in which several liberal members of the EP were depicted after being hanged during a rally of the Polish far right.
Whilst Polish society seems increasingly polarized the PiS is the favorite to win the general elections scheduled for 13 October, according to all the surveys. EFE-EPA