Controversial Catholic radio boss slams president over Jews
The head of Poland?s controversial Catholic broadcaster Radio Maryja slammed President Lech Kaczynski for allegedly giving in to Jewish demands for compensation for property lost after the Holocaust, according to a report early this week.
The ?Wprost? weekly said it had obtained a recording of a closed-door conference in April during which the fundamentalist station?s founder and boss, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, launched a tirade as he spoke of a meeting with Kaczynski.
?You know what this is about: Poland giving (the Jews) $65 bln. They will come to you and say, ?Give me your coat! Take off your trousers! Give me your shoes!? Rydzyk said, according to ?Wprost.?
Rydzyk did not deny he had made the remarks but accused ?Wprost? of ?provocation.? No immediate comment was available from Kaczynski, but presidential aide Maciej Lopinski said: ?If this recording is genuine, it?s absolutely scandalous.?
The Polish government has said it wants this year to settle the issue of compensation for people whose property was nationalised by the post-war Communist regime, including Holocaust survivors.
Despite several attempts, Poland has failed since the fall of the Communist bloc in 1989 to set blanket rules on dealing with assets seized by the former regime.
Poland?s property-owners? association says that the current total value of seized property is estimated at 65-70 bln zloty (17-18.7 bln euro, $23.6-$25.4 bln).
Claims by people of Polish-Jewish origin only make up 17 percent of the total, and are therefore just a fraction of the $65 bln referred to by Rudzyk.
The Radio Maryja media empire has been built up on Catholic fundamentalist, Polish nationalist, and anti-liberal ideologies and has sparked controversy for the anti-Semitic content of some of its broadcasts.
The radio claims to have 3 mln regular listeners. Rydzyk?s stable also includes the television station Trwam and a newspaper, Nasz Dziennik.
The influential broadcaster also has the support of many priests in this country, where more than 90 percent of population of 38.2 mln are professed Catholics, although Rydzyk has sparred with the Vatican over his views. Rydyzk?s media empire frequently takes political positions and usually benefits from good relations with Kaczynski?s ruling Catholic conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party.
On Sunday, Radio Maryja organised a mass to mark its 15th anniversary, attended by some 150,000 pilgrims including Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the president?s twin, and other government heavyweights.