WASHINGTON (Jan. 24)
A prominent Polish priest who made highly publicized anti-Semitic remarks during a 1995 sermon is now facing criminal charges.
Father Henryk Jankowski, a former ally of previous President Lech Walesa, likened the Jewish Star of David to the Communist hammer and sickle and the Nazi swastika.
During the sermon, which was attended by Walesa, Jankowski also said the Polish people should not allow those who owed secret allegiance to Israel or Russia to remain in government.
“Father Jankowski is alleged to have violated the criminal law article” that deals with “insulting and humiliating persons of other nationalities,” a spokeswoman for the prosecutors’ office in the northern city of Gdansk was quoted as saying.
At the time of the incident, Walesa was criticized for failing to instantly condemn Jankowski’s remarks, which Walesa said he had not heard. He later issued a statement condemning anti-Semitism.
Jankowski could face up to three years in prison if convicted. Speaking to reporters, he said the charges against him show that there is no freedom of speech in Poland.
“It is a return to a Communist totalitarianism,” he said. “As a Polish citizen I feel persecuted by the Jewish minority.”