Poles mourn death of mayor of Gdańsk

After the fatal knife attack on Gdańsk mayor Paweł Adamowicz, tens of thousands of people have gathered for silent marches in Poland's cities to protest against political hatred. A man rushed on stage during a charity gala on Sunday and stabbed Adamowicz several times.

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Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Adamowicz's death will have been in vain

Poland will learn nothing from this brutal crime, Rzeczpospolita laments:

“Paweł Adamowicz's death should actually change Polish politics. But the Polish-Polish war benefits both the PiS and the PO. Both groups feed on the polarisation of society. Let's not kid ourselves: Paweł Adamowicz's death will be in vain. Immediately after the funeral the political battle will resume and be twice as fierce as it was before. Authors will try to outdo each other with vindictive commentaries, and politicians will continue to politicise the debate month after month in this election year. Let's not forget, the European, the parliamentary and the presidential elections all lie ahead. And there will be no peace in Poland.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Another European martyr

Paweł Adamowicz's murder is strongly reminiscent of that of British politician Jo Cox, columnist Goffredo Buccini laments in Corriere della Sera:

“The Gdansk mayor believed in integration and the open society. Like Jo Cox. And like her, he died. ... The pro-Europeans - although it would be more fitting to say all Europeans - now have yet another martyr, once again in the run-up to important elections. In June 2016 it was Labour politician Jo Cox, a week before the Brexit vote. On Sunday it was liberal politician Paweł Bogdan Adamowicz, four months before the European elections - which are increasingly becoming a sort of Judgement Day.”

Polityka (PL) /

A warning signal for all voters

For journalist Danuta Hübner Adamowicz's death is a warning signal for Europe. She writes on her blog for Polityka:

“Hate speech and agitation against liberal values are not just a problem among the Polish people. There is growing support for populist forces beyond our borders. One in four voters in Europe supports such parties. ... In just a few months we'll elect our representatives to the European Parliament. In view of what happened in Gdansk we should realise just how important our electoral decisions are. It's crucial that we send representatives to Brussels who can save Europe from destruction due to widespread frustration. Let's create a Poland - and a Europe - that are free of political extremism.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

PiS to blame for the hatred

Even the way the attack is being dealt with shows how divided the country is, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung comments:

“The conservative government has reacted in a respectable manner to the murder of one of its most prominent critics. But in demanding that people refrain from politicising the murder it is also trying to stifle an important debate about the limits of political rhetoric. Politicians of all stripes in Poland have long had a tendency to use bloody metaphors and insults. We would all do well to take a good look at ourselves this time. But the blame for the fact that hatred has got the upper hand in political disputes in recent years lies firmly with one party: the right-wing groups associated with the governing PiS.”

Novoye Vremya (UA) /

Hate speech paved the way for the murder

Alexander Synchenko isn't surprised to see hatred turn into violence. He writes in Novoye Vremya:

“This whole thing was predictable. For the past four or five years now I've been telling my friends that the degree of verbal violence in Poland has become simply enormous. ... What should be done? Hate speech must not be trivialised. ... A weak Poland with a divided society is the worst possible situation for Ukraine. It's bad for everyone if those in Poland who have been fuelling hatred or claiming it is harmless in recent years become stronger.”

wPolityce.pl (PL) /

This wasn't a political murder

People should refrain from trying to make political hay out of Adamowicz's death, journalist Konrad Kołodziejski writes on the nationalist website wPolityce.pl:

“I've read that the security company didn't even have a precise idea of the agenda for the charity event in Gdansk. In a nutshell, the security personnel didn't react because they probably thought the knife-wielding attacker was part of the show. Everyone's saying that Paweł Adamowicz's murder is the result of a wave of hatred that's gripping the population. Perhaps it was, but only in the sense that hatred might drive a maniac to commit a crime. I'd prefer it if maniacs weren't able to enact their mad deeds. I fear, however, that any kind of deeper reflection is being drowned out by political emotions and counterproductive ballyhoo.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

A stab in the heart of democracy

The perpetrator's hate didn't come out of nowhere, the Frankfurter Rundschau points out:

“Verbal hate attacks are much more part of everyday life in Poland than in many other Western democracies. So it's no exaggeration to say that in such an environment an atrocity such as the murder in Gdansk should not surprise anyone. But that also means that the stabs not only pierced the heart of the popular and committed mayor, but also of democracy itself.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Debate being fuelled dangerously

Italian politicians should take the events in Poland to heart, warns geopolitics expert Lucio Caracciolo in La Repubblica:

“The murder of Adamowicz invites us to reflect on the state of a large European country which is caught in a nationalist spiral. This affects us directly. Never before have Poland and Italy been so close. Both are taking advantage of an Islamophobic climate. ... This has even prompted the leaders of Poland, Italy and Hungary to establish an axis of nationalists. ... When the democratic debate becomes a clash of civilisations, anything is possible. Even the violent derailment of a sick mind that is sensitive to the rhetoric of demonisation.”

Echo24 (CZ) /

Reconciliation needed

Poland's politicians need to do some self-reflection, Echo24 writes:

“Tensions between the ruling PiS and the opposition Civic Platform have grown in recent months. Quite naturally, the attack has left people fearing that similar things will happen in the future. ... Poland's democracy isn't ready for the conservative aspirations of PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński. His radical reforms have elicited equally radical resistance. The Gdansk attack is a reminder of where such a trend can lead. No matter how you interpret the attack, the liberals and conservatives must look within themselves and ask where Poland is going and if reconciliation is possible.”