Fury at 'antisemitic' Catholic radio station

A CATHOLIC radio station in Poland that has close ties with the country's government has been attacked by a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto uprising after it broadcast a programme accusing Jews of profiteering from the Holocaust.

Mark Edelman, who fought German troops trying to liquidate the Jewish ghetto in 1943, said Radio Maryja was xenophobic and antisemitic, likening its contents to Nazi propaganda.

Mr Edelman, a respected member of Poland's Jewish community, urged the government to stop the station, which enjoys widespread popularity and is run by a maverick priest, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, from broadcasting antisemitic material.

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Mr Edelman's accusations were followed by a robust attack on the station by the Vatican, which charged it with having a political agenda and abusing its church radio status.

The Vatican representative in Poland, Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, wrote to the head of Father Rydzyk's Redemptionist order demanding an end to the station's involvement in politics.

"Radio Maryja's involvement in political issues ... has not escaped the attention of the Holy See," the letter said.

The statement comes days after a media watchdog accused Radio Maryja of making "very nasty, antisemitic" remarks by claiming in a recent broadcast that Jews have made a business of Holocaust reparation payments.

In the broadcast, a commentator accused Jews of "trying to force our government to pay extortion money disguised as compensation payments" for property lost in the war.

He referred to such restitution attempts by Jewish groups as the "Holocaust business".

The letter came amid a wave of accusations of political interference against Radio Maryja and concern at its apparent influence on the government.

Leading members of the governing Law and Justice party, which has pursued a staunchly moral and Catholic agenda since it came into office last year, are regular guests on the station.

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The Polish president, Lech Kaczynski, who is also from Law and Justice, publicly thanked Radio Maryja in his first speech after his election in October.

Two months ago, and to the fury of the Polish press, Law and Justice held the signing of a key co-operation agreement with two other political parties exclusively on Radio Maryja's sister television network Trwam.

The close relationship between the government and the station has even led to the satirical comment that Poland has the most technically advanced government in the world because it is radio controlled.

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