Prayer chain or keep out sign? Polish Catholics surround border

Thousands of Polish Catholics formed human prayer chains on the country’s borders on Saturday, begging God “to save Poland and the world”.

Church leaders in Poland say the event was purely religious and “the key objective of this manifestation is to pray for peace.”

During a mass celebrated on the border, the archbishop of Krakow, Marek Jedraszewski, called on believers to pray “for the other European nations to make them understand it is necessary to return to Christian roots so that Europe would remain Europe.”

Not everyone saw the event as purely religious, however.

Many viewed it as a spiritual weapon against the “Islamisation” of Europe. Others have concerns the prayer chain could be seen as endorsing the state’s refusal to let in Muslim migrants.

A leading Polish expert on xenophobia and extremism, Rafal Pankowski, saw the prayer chain event as a problematic expression of Islamophobia.

He says it comes at a time of rising anti-Muslim sentiment in Poland, even though the country’s Muslim population is tiny.

“The whole concept of doing it on the borders reinforces the ethno-religious, xenophobic model of national identity,” said Pankowski, who heads the Never Again association in Warsaw.

The date selected for the human prayer chain – 7 October – was the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. This year’s anniversary marks the 1571 Christian victory over the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Lepanto.



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