Reporting on the extraordinary turnout for the “Rosary on the Borders” prayer campaign in Poland, the Associated Press (AP) suggested that the event smacked of “a problematic expression of Islamophobia.”
On-the-ground sources said that over a million Poles turned out Saturday to pray the rosary along the country’s 2,000-mile border for the salvation of their country.
According to the spokesman for the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Father Pawel Rytel-Andrianik, the event drew “millions of people” to pray the rosary together and was the second-largest prayer event ever held in Europe, after the 2016 World Youth Day.
“This exceeded the boldest expectations of the organizers,” he said.
Organizers scheduled the event for Oct.7, the Feast of the Holy Rosary, which commemorates the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, where “the Christian fleet overcame the Muslim armada, saving Europe from Islamization.”
The feast day, originally called “Our Lady of Victory,” was established by Pope Pius V in 1571 after the so-called Holy League won a landmark victory over the invading Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Lepanto. At the time, much of Europe was under siege from the Islamic forces, which sought to win the entire continent for Allah.
The AP warned that Saturday’s national event, which was endorsed by Polish church authorities, had “anti-Muslim overtones.”
Citing an “expert on xenophobia,” the AP said that the border prayer event “reinforces the ethno-religious, xenophobic model of national identity,” and represents a “problematic expression of Islamophobia” in the country.
The AP wasn’t the only mainstream media outlet to take issue with the overtly Christian commemoration, which was openly supported by Poland’s prime minister, Beata Szydło.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) called the rosary prayer “controversial,” suggesting that the event could be seen “as support for the government’s refusal to accept Muslim migrants.”
Drawing together these expressions, Newsweek magazine proclaimed that the border prayer was a “controversial event seen as anti-Muslim,” and repeated the AP story that “the prayers seemed like a way to express Islamophobia.”
The AP reported that one of the participants, 45-year-old Krzysztof Januszewski, expressed concerns that Europe is being threatened by Islamic extremists and a loss of faith in once Christian societies.
“In the past, there were raids by sultans and Turks and people of other faiths against us Christians,” said Januszewski.
“Today Islam is flooding us and we are afraid of this too,” he added. “We are afraid of terrorist threats and we are afraid of people departing from the faith.”
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