Polish Mayor Faces Criticism For Ban On Religious Symbols

Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski has come under fire after signing an order banning the display of religious symbols, including Christian crosses, in city hall offices. 

According to the new rules, crosses cannot be hung on walls or displayed on staff desks, a common practice in the predominantly Catholic country. Official events must also be secular in nature without any form of prayer. 

One method of expression still allowed for employees by the state remains: they can still wear personal religious symbols such as medallions, jewelry featuring saints and religious tattoos.

Trzaskowski’s decision appears to be in response to Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s 2021 call for the removal of crosses from public buildings. Trzaskowski, a likely presidential candidate for Tusk’s Civic Coalition, has faced criticism from conservative opposition figures who view the move as an attack on religious freedom and Polish customs.

Tobiasz Bocheński, the unsuccessful Law and Justice (PiS) candidate against Trzaskowski in last month’s local elections, called the mayor “a fanatical leftist ideologue who is trying to introduce extreme leftist ideology to Warsaw, contrary to the legal order and customs prevailing in Poland.”

Former PiS government spokesman and MP Piotr Muller accused Trzaskowski of threatening religious freedom and attempting to enforce new cultural norms in the capital city with the cross being the first target for removal.

Trzaskowski claimed in a somewhat ominous “defense” of his actions that “no one wants to combat any religion, and that religious symbols will have their place when history is celebrated.”

 

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