Warsaw’s symbol of tolerance set alight for sixth time
August 8, 2014
The rainbow, a giant, 25-metre wide art colorful installation, erected on Zbawiciela square, in central Warsaw, and seen by many in the Polish capital as a symbol of tolerance was set alight, for the sixth time since it was first installed in June 2012.
The police said that two drunk men were arrested Thursday morning after they allegedly set alight to the installation.
The structure, covered with 23,000 artificial flowers was designed by an award-winning artist Julita Wójcik. The rainbow was first installed in front of the European Parliament in Brussels in September 2011, to honor Poland’s turn at the rotating presidency of the European Union.
Wojcik said that the rainbow was intended as a symbol of tolerance.
“In 2011, Poland was seen as a homophobic country,” she said. “I wanted to show that we’re not closed, but open-minded.”
When in June 2012 Wojcik brought the rainbow back to Poland it was perceived by many as a symbol of gay rights. Since then it has become part of a culture war over homosexuality. Many residents also criticized its proximity to the square’s church. On many occasions it has also come under attack from right-wing politicians.
“The rainbow is not a pro- or anti-gay declaration. It’s about tolerance, diversity, openness.” Wojcik said, adding that her goal was to strip the rainbow of all its political meaning, leaving the interpretation open and making it a bridge of mutual tolerance.
The installation had been burned five times before. Last time by participants in a march organized by nationalists on Independence Day on 11 November 2013. However, every time, Warsaw city council restored the rainbow to its original, colorful state.
Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, Warsaw’s mayor from the ruling center-right Civic Platform (PO) party, said that the city authorities will rebuild the rainbow “many times” if necessary.