Following a joint operation in 2010 by Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry and the State Agency for National Security, 13 alleged members of radical Islamist organised Al Waqf al Islam have been charged with preaching Salafism and the imposition of Sharia law, it emerged on June 18 2012.
The District Prosecutor’s Office in Pazardzhik said that charges had been laid in connection with leadership and membership of an illegal organisation.
The organisation reportedly had operated in Bulgaria’s towns of Smolyan, Blagoevgrad and Pazardzhik, as well as villages elsewhere in the Rhodope region.
One of those arrested was an imam, a Muslim spiritual leader.
The criminal charges follow the operation by the ministry and the agency in October 2010. The group allegedly had been active since March 2008.
Prosecutors said that the group had propagated an ideology that was “anti-democratic, expressed in opposition to the principles of democracy, separation of powers, liberalism, a rule-of-law state, basic human rights such as gender equality and religious freedom”.
The group allegedly spread their message during Friday prayers in mosques, and through lectures, sermons and meetings in cafes.
During the operation, literature in Arabic was seized, along with financial documents, cash and computers.
If found guilty, the alleged leader, imam Said Mutlu, could face up to 12 years in jail. Other members of the group could be sentenced to up to 10 years in jail.