By Cezar Komorovsky:
Poland: Teachers, students demand resignation of education minister
8 July 2006
The appointment of neo-fascist Roman Giertych of the League of Polish Families (LPR) to the position of national education minister has provoked protests by concerned workers as well as youth throughout Poland.
The May 5 appointment was denounced by Gazeta Wyborcza as “a slap in the face for all Polish teachers.”
Student demonstrations immediately occurred in most large cities after Giertych’s appointment, with more than 10,000 marching nationwide demanding his resignation.
“We fear that an atmosphere of nationalism, chauvinism and radical clericalism along the lines of the ideas propagated by Radio Maryja (an ultra-nationalistic, anti-Semitic Polish radio station) will now penetrate into all schools.
The already limited pluralism will be completely erased,” declared a spokesperson for the student demonstrators.
The Polish Teachers’ Association (PTA) had already requested his dismissal.
“The minister lacks competence in the area of education,” said PTA head Slawomir Broniarz.
“He is unfamiliar with the functioning of the Polish education system.”
An online petition calling for Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz of the Law and Justice Party (PiS) to remove Giertych as education minister received 60,000 signatures within 40 hours in early May.
A group of students, teachers and education experts then gathered 140,000 signatures calling for Giertych’s resignation a month later.
More than 2,500 teachers came to Warsaw on June 9 to protest Giertych’s appointment.
Roman Giertych, born in 1971 in Srem, Poland, comes from a prominent family of Polish chauvinist politicians.
He father, Maciej Giertych, was the LPR presidential hopeful in 2005, and his grandfather, Jedrzej Giertych, was a central figure in Poland’s inter-war ultra-nationalist circles in the 1920s. (See “Poland: Right-wing extremists officially join government”)
Giertych is remembered by many of his teachers as having been an average student.
His biology teacher recalls him as a “consistent questioner of the validity of the theory of evolution” [see also here] and a “militant.”
From the BBC:
It’s not often you hear a paean of praise to the Spanish fascist dictator General Franco these days.
And you certainly don’t expect to hear it in the European Parliament.
So members were shocked when Polish MEP Maciej Giertych got to his feet.
He was speaking in one of those debates that seem rather pious and pointless, to mark the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish civil war – full of MEPs condemning a regime that is long dead and buried, already reviled by most.
Now Mr Giertych is not some marginal figure.
He was a presidential candidate and his party is a coalition partner in the Polish government. His son doubles as deputy prime minister and education minister.
See also here.