There were reports of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice; however, prominent societal leaders took positive steps to promote religious freedom.
During the year, there were a number of incidents of vandalism targeted at property associated with Jewish, Muslim, and Christian groups. Most of these incidents were targeted at Jewish groups. The NGO Never Again also documented a persistent trend of anti-Semitic chants and paraphernalia among soccer fans throughout the country during the year, both during matches and in public gatherings. Anti-Semitic actions included soccer fans displaying a large “Jihad Legia” (League of Jihad) banner during a match against the Israeli HaPoel Tel Aviv team.
NGOs, media, and academic experts believed that the incidents were likely linked to a rise in the numbers and activities of extreme nationalist groups. Some law enforcement agencies, however, reported that statistics did not show a rise in the total number of hate crimes and said that they lacked proof that organized groups were behind these incidents. The government, while generally quick to criticize these incidents on the national--and sometimes local--level, was generally unable to find the perpetrators. Groups such as the All-Polish Youth, the National Rebirth of Poland, the Polish National Party, and the neo-fascist Red Watch openly espoused anti-Semitic views, but there was no evidence directly linking these groups to incidents of violence or vandalism.
Throughout the year there were several incidents of desecrations of cemeteries and synagogues. For example, on the night of October 15, unknown perpetrators desecrated a Catholic cemetery, turning over tombstones and uprooting crosses, in the town of Peczniew.
On August 31, unknown perpetrators defaced with Nazi swastikas and SS signs the monument in the town of Jedwabne commemorating the mass killing of Jews burned alive by their Polish neighbors during World War II. The vandals wrote on the monument: “I don’t apologize for Jedwabne!” and “They were easy to burn.”
On August 20, unknown perpetrators attempted to set fire to the Muslim prayer house in the city of Bialystok.
During the year, there were isolated incidents of what appeared to be religiously motivated violence or violent threats. For example, on December 11, an unknown perpetrator violently attacked a Catholic priest in the town of Suwalki. After beating the priest on the head, the perpetrator took the priest’s prayer book, but left his money.
In November unknown perpetrators placed a fake bomb in the window of the house of Tomasz Pietrasiewicz, the director of the Jewish-themed “NN Theater” in Lublin. The attack followed previous anti-Semitic attacks against the theater, including threatening letters and a sign posted on the theater door depicting a Star of David hanging from a gallows. On December 17, 2010, an unknown perpetrator threw bricks with swastikas and a small explosive device through the window of Pietrasiewicz’s home.
Interfaith groups worked to encourage tolerance and understanding among the various religious groups in the country. The Polish Council of Christians and Jews met regularly to organize conferences and ceremonies, and the Catholic and Orthodox churches had an active bilateral commission. The Polish Ecumenical Council, which includes most Christian groups other than the Roman Catholic Church, promoted ecumenical dialogue and religious tolerance. On January 26, the Roman Catholic Church celebrated the Day of Islam to promote peace among religious believers. On January 15-16, the Roman Catholic Church celebrated the Day of Judaism, which featured numerous events throughout the country, including meetings, lectures at schools, film screenings, and exhibitions.