Warsaw’s Mayor Faces Criticism For Banning Religious Symbols In City Offices

The mayor of Warsaw, Poland, is facing scathing criticism after signing an order that bans the display of religious symbols; notably, the ban includes Christian crosses.

According to Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski’s new rules, crosses can’t be hung on walls or displayed on desks, a common practice in the predominantly Catholic country.

Official events must also be secular in nature without any form of prayer. Employees can still wear personal religious symbols such as medallions, jewelry featuring saints and religious tattoos, but this is a small consolation for many in the city.

Trzaskowski’s decision appears to be in response to Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s 2021 call to remove all Christian crosses from official government buildings. Trzaskowski, a likely presidential candidate for Tusk’s Civic Coalition, has faced criticism from conservative figures who are calling out the clear attack on the customs and culture of Poles and on the religious freedoms of the people living in Warsaw.

Tobiasz Bocheński, who lost a recent election to Trzaskowski as a member of the Law and Justice (PiS) political party, called the mayor “a fanatical leftist ideologue who is trying to introduce extreme leftist ideology to Warsaw, contrary to the legal order and customs prevailing in Poland.”

Former PiS government spokesman and MP Piotr Muller accused Trzaskowski of threatening religious freedom and attempting to enforce new cultural norms in the capital city with the cross being the first target for removal.

Trzaskowski made the claim that “Poland is a secular state and Warsaw is its capital,” implying that the capital too should be secular. He attempted to reassure the public, but his phrasing leaves much to be desired as far as reassuring the religious members of the community that the state is not targeting their beliefs and culture: “No one wants to combat any religion … religious symbols will have their place when history is celebrated.”