January 19, 2019 1:41 pm

Speakers denounce hatred at funeral for slain Gdansk mayor in Poland

WATCH ABOVE: Funeral held for Gdansk mayor stabbed at charity event.

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A Catholic archbishop and other speakers at the funeral Saturday of slain Gdansk Mayor Pawel Adamowicz urged an end to political and social divisions in Poland, targeting some of their comments to the country’s ruling right-wing party.

Top Polish and European officials and thousands of citizens joined Adamowicz’s widow, two daughters, and other family members at the ceremony held at Gdansk’s vast Gothic St. Mary’s Basilica.

READ MORE: Poland mayor dies after on-stage stabbing at charity event

Adamowicz, 53, died Monday after being stabbed the night before at a charity event in the northern Polish city. The arrested suspect is an ex-convict who publicly voiced a grudge against an opposition party that Adamowicz once belonged to.

WARNING: This video of Gdansk mayor Pawel Adamowicz’s stabbing contains violent images. Discretion advised.

The slaying, which came as Poland faces a deep political divide over actions by the conservative ruling Law and Justice party, was a shock to the nation. It has drawn calls for greater national unity and condemnation of hate speech in the public sphere.

WATCH BELOW: Suspect in popular Poland mayor’s death was released from prison last month

Adamowicz himself was the target of criticism in state media and hate messages by some far-right activists, who criticized his tolerance and openness.

In his sermon at the funeral, Gdansk Archbishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz said Adamowicz’s death was a “bell calling for alarm.”

“Our homeland needs harmony in politics,” Glodz said.

Other speakers in the church drew applause, unusual for a ceremony in predominantly Catholic Poland, when they denounced hostility in public and political life.

People gather to watch on big screens a funeral service of the late Gdansk Mayor Pawel Adamowicz in Gdansk, Poland, 19 January 2019.

EPA/TOMASZ WASZCZUK

Poland cannot remain indifferent to the “spreading poison of hatred in the streets, in the media, in the internet, in schools, in parliament and also in the church,” said Dominican friar Ludwik Wisniewski, a friend of Adamowicz’s.

“A person who is filled with hatred, who builds his career on a lie, cannot hold high positions in our country and we will make sure of that,” Wisniewski said, drawing long applause, for what could be interpreted as a reference to Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the ruling party leader, who did not attend the funeral.

WATCH BELOW: Suspect in mayor’s slaying was ‘boasting,’ witness says

Another friend, Aleksander Hall, said Adamowicz was killed by “hatred that was instigated and fueled” in the media.

A very personal address by Adamowicz’s widow and daughter drew tears from many attending officials, former President Lech Walesa among them.

Those at the funeral included European Council President Donald Tusk — a personal friend of Adamowicz’s — Polish President Andrzej Duda; Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki; former German President Joachim Gauck and city mayors from The Netherlands and Germany.

European Council President Donald Tusk, left, his wife Malgorzata Tusk, and Poland’s former president and Solidarity pro-democracy movement founder, Lech Walesa, attending the funeral of slain Gdansk city Mayor Pawel Adamowicz, at St. Mary’s Basilica in Gdansk, Poland, on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019.

AP Photo/Wojtek Strozyk

Pope Francis sent rosaries to the family and assured them of his prayers. Prayers were also said by the country’s Jewish and Muslim leaders.

The black urn with the mayor’s ashes was placed before the altar, surrounded by dozens of white roses. It was to be laid to rest at one of the basilica’s chapels.

A black urn containing the ashes of slain Gdansk city Mayor Pawel Adamowicz placed in a niche at the city’s basilica following his funeral attended by Poland’s and European dignitaries, at St. Mary’s Basislica in Gdansk, Poland, on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019.

AP Photo/Wojtek Strozyk

Crowds overflowed into the streets in Gdansk but were able to watch funeral Mass on giant screens. Black-and-white photos of the popular mayor were also seen in many shops and apartment windows.

Crowds also gathered around screens in Warsaw and other cities across Poland to see the funeral.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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