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Stab in the heart of tolerance

Pawel Adamowicz was part of the Solidarity union in the 1980s, participating in the resistance to the communist regime. He was elected mayor of Gdansk for the first time in 1998 and was subsequently re-elected over time. At the age of 53, he was one of the main faces of tolerance in a country that is becoming increasingly fragmented, where the Law and Justice Party (PiS), which also emerged from the struggles of Solidarity, has imposed since he returned to the government in 2015, a permanent discussion.

A sign of this period in which political discourse, not only in Poland, becomes divisive and violent, Danzica knew the tragedy last Sunday, with the stabbing of the mayor on stage, in front of thousands of stunned people who did not have the ability to react: a 27-year-old man with a criminal record jumped on the stage and stabbed Adamowicz.

Stefan W., the murderer, had served a five-year prison term for bank robbery and, according to his admission, via Adamowicz and the Civic Platform (which governed the country between 2007 and 2015) as his dishonor. Interestingly, the mayor of Gdansk abandoned the Civic Platform in 2015.

The police speak of a man with mental disorders, but few consider this death devoid of political context. Although there was no direct relationship between the knife-wielding hand and the political circles of PiS and the speech promoted by its leader and co-founder, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Lech Walesa, founder of Solidarity and former Polish president, accused the politicians of the tragedy: "All sorts of sick people do this kind of thing, but it is politics that should be blamed for this whole situation". Donald Tusk, President of the European Council and former Prime Minister of the Civic Platform, traveled from Brussels to pay his last homage to his friend: "I promise you today, my dear Pawel, that for you and for all of us we will defend our Gdansk, our Poland and our Europe of hatred and contempt ".

The Great Christmas Charity Orchestra, the largest fundraiser for charity, was for years an organization that unified the Poles in general – in the common task of raising funds to procure medical equipment for hospitals – until PiS he did not turn his speech against the initiative and turn it into a symbol of hateful liberalism. That the mayor of Danzig was assassinated during the performance of the show can not fail to have his political interpretation.

Adamowicz, the charity and its founder, rock musician Jerzy Owsiak, were the propaganda targets for PiS and other far-right movements – a group of young nationalists released a "death certificate" for the president of a murdered chamber whose speech in defense of LGBT rights and the acceptance of refugees have made it the usual target of extremist diatribes.

The stab in the heart of Adamowicz is a stab in the heart of Polish democracy. The mayor, 53, has lasted until Monday. A priest assured him that he would not pray for him. Kaczynski asked not to be politicized by the tragedy, but did not appear in the parliamentary session on Wednesday when a minute of silence was respected and honored the deceased politician. "Hatred has killed Pawel, a mad hatred, a very well-organized hatred," Grzegorz Schetyna, leader of the Civic Platform, told parliament.

The newspaper Rzeczpospolita has launched an appeal on the first page of the Wednesday edition: "Ends the incitement to hate". For the newspaper, today Poland is witnessing the "brutalization of public debate" and "a wave of hatred that emerges from both traditional media and the Internet".

The director of the newspaper, Boguslaw Chabota, has no doubts: "This wave has encouraged the killer of Pawel Adamowicz to act". Because "even today, with the whole country in mourning, Internet trolls congratulate the killer, turning it into a national hero, demanding that his actions be repeated," he wrote in an editorial.

After more than 30 years since the fall of communism in Poland, it would be difficult to see a country more divided than today. And for those who defend freedom, tolerance, respect for opposing ideas, the environment has become toxic, life or death, as can see the murder of the mayor of Gdansk. And even a seemingly neutral thing like the country's largest non-profit organization, like the Great Christmas Charity Orchestra, can turn into an object of hatred.

At least 10 people have been arrested by Polish police this week for requests for the death and aggression of politicians who are considered too liberal. Among the detainees there is a 72-year-old man who has called a social security center to say that the next on the line to assassinate is President Andrzej Duda who, curiously, was a member of the PiS.

Adamowicz was one of the 11 mayors who had been the target of false death certificates issued by the Polish youth after the signing of a document favorable to the reception of immigrants in the country, contrary to the restrictive immigration policies implemented by the 39; executive PiS.

Thousands of people gathered on Wednesday night for the widow and two daughters of Pawel Adamowicz in Gdansk guarding the mayor. The flags of the city were placed halfway up the pole. Thousands of others have demonstrated in the country against hatred and violence. The current body mass takes place today in the Basilica of Santa Maria of this city in the north of Poland. In the book of condolences, Walesa wrote: "Goodbye, my friend in this valley, we will soon meet in a better place."

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