Thursday, April 13, 2006


Radio nasty

Apr 12th 2006 | WARSAW
From The Economist print edition

Anti-Semitic radio in trouble

THE Polish government is the most technologically advanced in the world—because it is radio-controlled. That jibe reflects the close relationship between Radio Maryja, run by an outspoken Roman Catholic monk, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, and a government marked by its senior figures' piety.

Now Radio Maryja is embroiled in scandal. At the end of March one of its commentators, Stanislaw Michalkiewicz, said Jews were “trying to force our government to pay extortion money disguised as compensation payments”. This was tasteless even by this station's standards. It brought a protest from the Vatican, which urged the bishops to keep the station under control. It also led to a rare statement from one of Poland's best-known Jews, Marek Edelman. The last surviving commander of the Warsaw ghetto uprising of 1943 called for Radio Maryja to be closed down because of its “xenophobia, chauvinism and anti-Semitism”.

Many Polish bishops, who represent the brainy, open-minded faith embodied by the late pope, John Paul II, feel the same. They find Radio Maryja creepy and superstitious. The mainly secular Polish mainstream media have piled in as well, probing the station's questionable financial dealings. None of this may have much impact on the radio station's traditional, mainly elderly, rural and poorly educated listeners. But it may give the government pause for thought, as it prepares for a visit by the new pope next month.

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