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Polish nationalists blast planned Madonna concert
WARSAW (Reuters) - A group of Polish nationalists condemned on Thursday a planned weekend concert by pop diva Madonna in Warsaw, branding her a "crypto-Satanist" who wants to insult the Christian religion.
Madonna has upset many believers in devoutly Roman Catholic Poland by choosing to give her Polish debut concert on August 15, when Christians mark the Virgin Mary's ascension to heaven.
"Madonna specializes in offending religious feelings... It is possible to suspect her of being a crypto-Satanist," Marian Baranski, deputy head of the "Faith and National Tradition Defense Committee 'Pro Polonia,'" told a news conference.
"Madonna sneers at Jesus Christ, the symbol of the cross and all Christians," said Zygmunt Wrzodak, a former member of the Polish parliament.
But the group said it had called off a planned protest on Saturday at the concert venue for fear of provoking "riots."
Madonna, whose very name signifies the Virgin Mary, has often annoyed conservative Christians, kissing an actor playing Jesus in one of her videos and staging a crucifixion scene in her last world tour.
Lech Walesa, ex-leader of Poland's anti-communist Solidarity trade union and a former president, urged Madonna last month to move the date of her Warsaw concert.
August 15 is doubly sensitive for Polish nationalists as it is also armed forces day when Poles commemorate their victory over invading Soviet forces in 1920.
"This is the anniversary of the Battle of Warsaw... when the Polish army defended our country from the barbarism flooding in from the east. Now the barbarism is coming from the west," said Pawel Zieminski, another member of the 'Pro Polonia' group.
Madonna, who follows the Kabbalah, a mystical strand of Judaism, is expected to visit the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz in southern Poland during her visit to the country.
Up to 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, are estimated to have perished at the camp during World War Two.
(Reporting by Malgorzata Szuleka, writing by Gareth Jones, editing by Paul Casciato)