WARSAW—A Polish prosecutor jas launched an investigation into a ceremony in the town of Pruchnik, south-eastern Poland, in which people, including many children, beat an effigy that was supposed to be Judas but was dressed to look like a Hasidic Jew.
The ceremony took place during Good Friday. It saw a doll is hit several times by adults and children — each blow representing one of the pieces of silver Judas got for turning Jesus over to the authorities.
In Pruchnik the Judas dummy had a big red nose, black hat and Orthodox-style ringlets.
The Easter ritual known as “Judgment over Judas” dates back to the 18th century and continued to be regularly performed until the Second World War.
The tradition had been largely abandoned, with only a couple of villages continuing it.
“After watching the material online, I decided that it potentially contains elements of hate speech,” said prosecutor Agnieszka Kaczorowska. She said the investigation would take at least two months and would initially focus on determining the identity of those who took part.
The ceremony might have constituted a crime under Polish law, since it incited hatred on the grounds of nationality and religion.
Polish Interior Minister Joachim Brudzinski denounced the incident, calling it “idiotic, pseudo-religious chutzpah” and referring to the participants as “Satans.”