MEP attacks invitation to 'offensive' Polish priest

By Marcus Dysch and Josh Jackman, June 14, 2012
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a conservative MEP has attacked colleagues for inviting a Polish priest accused of repeated antisemitism to speak in the European Parliament.

Marina Yannakoudakis said she felt “let down” by Polish MEP Mirosław Piotrowski’s invitation to Father Tadeusz Rydzyk.

Father Rydzyk owns a right-wing Catholic radio station which has been denounced for its extreme views by Jewish organisations, the Vatican, and former Polish President Lech Wałesa.

The clergyman has in the past stated his disgust over Polish Jews seeking compensation for the pogroms of the 1930s, allegedly stating: “They [the Jews] will come to you and say, ‘Give me your coat! Take off your trousers! Give me your shoes!’”

Mr Piotrowski is part of the European Conservatives and Reformists bloc (ECR) in the parliament, which includes British Conservative MEPs.

In a letter to Mr Piotrowski, former Barnet Councillor Ms Yannakoudakis wrote: “Antisemitic comments made by Father Rydzyk have been condemned by Jewish human rights organisations as well as high-ranking members of the Roman Catholic Church in Poland.

“I am personally offended by his comments about Jews and I feel let down that a member of the ECR group allowed Father Rydzyk to express his views in the European Parliament.”

She said she represented 150,000 Jews and “deplored” antisemitism.

Mr Piotrowski invited Father Rydzyk to speak about an issue regarding a license for a Polish television channel which the priest owns.

Last year Father Rydzyk took part in a European Parliament conference on climate change and renewable energy. At the time a Polish MEP claimed that the priest was “misunderstood” and that his views were “held by many in Poland”.

Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander said Conservatives had “serious questions to answer” about the invitation to Father Rydzyk.

The ECR distanced itself from the invitation, saying it had not organised or funded last week’s event.

Last updated: 1:45pm, June 14 2012