Polish Lawmaker Extinguishes Menorah Candles

Grzegorz Braun did so with a fire extinguisher and is widely condemned
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 12, 2023 2:01 PM CST
Far-Right Lawmaker in Poland Extinguishes Menorah Candles
Workers in the Polish parliament clean up a menorah after a far-right lawmaker grabbed a fire extinguisher and put out the burning candles in Warsaw, Poland, on Tuesday Dec. 12, 2023.   (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

A far-right lawmaker in the Polish parliament used a fire extinguisher on Tuesday and put out the burning candles on a menorah that were lit for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. All major political forces quickly denounced the unprecedented incident carried out by Grzegorz Braun, one of the most controversial lawmakers in the current parliament, and said there would be no tolerance for antisemitic and xenophobic behavior in the parliament, per the AP. Braun, a pro-Russian member of the Confederation party, has in the past falsely claimed that there is a plot to turn Poland into a "Jewish state" and has called for homosexuality to be criminalized.

The speaker of the parliament, Szymon Holownia, called the act "absolutely scandalous" and excluded Braun from the day's parliamentary session, expressing hopes that "he will not return soon." He said he was reporting him to prosecutors. The parliament also slapped the highest possible financial penalty on Braun, forcing him to lose half of three months of his salary and per diems for half a year. "Poland is home to all religions," Holownia said. According to video footage of the incident, Braun grabbed a red fire extinguisher and put out candles on the menorah. A cloud of smoke, haze, and white powder filled the area.

Rabbi Shalom Ber Stambler, who led the Hanukkah ceremony as he has done for 17 years, told the AP the celebration took place peacefully and had just ended when suddenly chaos broke out and he became aware that Braun was putting out the candles on the sixth night of the weeklong festival. People begged him to stop and a woman, a member of the Jewish community, tried to stop Braun. Kickback smoke from the extinguisher went into her face and she needed medical attention afterward. Every year, members of the Jewish community attend the menorah lightning in the parliament. US Ambassador Mark Brzezinski wrote that he was "outraged by the nasty anti-Semitic act committed today by one of the Polish members of parliament."

(More Poland stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.