Polish man sentenced for burning effigy of haredi Jew

Katarzyna Markusz

WARSAW, Poland (JTA) -– A Polish man was sentenced to prison for burning an effigy of a haredi Orthodox Jew at a demonstration against Muslim refugees in western Poland.

Piotr Rybak received a 10-month jail sentence on Monday for burning the effigy in the Wroclaw central market in November 2015. The decision by the Wroclaw municipal court will be reviewed by a second court.

“For everyone living in Poland after World War II it is a clear statement of the terms ‘burning’ and ‘a Jew.’ This gesture should be read as a threat of annihilation, eg. by burning,” said prosecutor Katarzyna Zagwojska.

Rybak’s defense attorney reminded the court that the effigy — which included a black hat, beard, side curls and black clothing — was burnt during a demonstration against the taking in of Muslim refugees and not against the Jewish community. Rybak had previously told the court that the effigy was meant to represent philanthropist George Soros, an American Jewish billionaire.

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

“I acted for the nation and on behalf of the country,” said Rybak on Monday.

The trial has lasted for several weeks. Rybak was accused of “public incitement to hatred on the grounds of religion and nationality to an unspecified group of Jews by burning an effigy.”

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