Polish court hears testimony in case of burning in effigy of haredi Jew

Katarzyna Markusz

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – The man on trial for the in effigy of a haredi Orthodox Jew said the effigy was supposed to be of Jewish philanthropist George Soros.

Piotr Ryba , who is on trial for the incident, testified Monday in a city court in the western Polish city of Wroclaw that the effigy burned in the central market in the city  a year ago was supposed to be of Soros, an Israeli-American Jewish billionaire. Soros is not an Orthodox Jew, however.

The effigy was burned in November 2015 at the end of a demonstration in Wroclaw, Poland against taking in Muslim refugees.

“The effigy was prepared by the National Radical Camp. It was to be an effigy of George Soros. I have not seen him. I did not know how Soros looks,” Ryba told the court, according to reports. “I feel manipulated by the whole situation. I was, and I am, a patriot,” he also said.

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The case has been heard in the court for several weeks. Ryba is accused of “public incitement to hatred on the grounds of religion and nationality to an unspecified group of Jews by burning an effigy.”

Aleksander Gleichgewicht, chairman of the Jewish community in Wroclaw, was at the protest as a counter-demonstrator and testified in court Monday, the last day of witness testimony. He said he was shocked to discover that the effigy was a stereotypical image of a Hasidic Jew including a black hat, beard, side curls and black clothing, just as Jews were portrayed in Nazi Germany propoganda in the 1930s.

He recalled the situation in Nazi Germany. “First they burned buildings and effigies, then living people,” Gleichgewicht said.

The next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 21, when a verdict is expected to be delivered.

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