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Jewish group slams Polish burning of effigy

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By Agence France-Presse 

The World Jewish Congress has condemned a Polish town after reports that residents hung and burnt an effigy “made to look like a stereotypical Jew” in a revival of an old Easter tradition.

Children beat an effigy of Judas on Good Friday in the town of Pruchnik, Poland (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Children beat an effigy of Judas on Good Friday in the town of Pruchnik, Poland (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

WJC chief executive Robert Singer expressed “disgust and outrage at this latest blatantly antisemitic manifestation,” according to a statement Sunday.

“Jews are deeply disturbed by this ghastly revival of medieval antisemitism that led to unimaginable violence and suffering,” he added.

Polish media reports showed photos and video footage of residents, including children, of the southeastern town of Pruchnik using sticks to beat an effigy of Judas on Good Friday.

The figure, which had sidelocks and a large nose, was then beheaded, set on fire and tossed into a river, according to the reports.

The Easter ritual known as “Judgment over Judas” dates back to the 18th century and continued to be regularly performed until the Second World War.

The tradition had been largely abandoned, with only a couple of villages continuing it. Even Pruchnik had appeared to stop in recent years, according to the Polish news portal oko.press.

Anti-semitic concerns regarding Poland have recently resurfaced.

Last year, Warsaw passed a law that made it illegal to accuse the Polish nation or state of complicity in Nazi German war crimes.

The move sparked an outcry from Israel, which saw it as an attempt to ban testimonials on Polish crimes against Jews. In response, Warsaw amended the law to remove the possibility of fines or a prison sentence.

In February, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz drew Poland’s ire by saying “Poles suckle anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk.”

Jews first arrived in Poland in the Middle Ages and for centuries the country was home to the world’s largest Jewish community.

However, the population was decimated during the Nazi German occupation, when six million Poles — half of them Jews — were killed.

Today, there are only around 8,000 to 12,000 Jews living in Poland, according to estimates.

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