European Court of Human Rights penalises Bulgaria over Ataka clash at Sofia mosque

The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Bulgaria to pay damages arising from a May 2011 incident in which Volen Siderov and supporters of his far-right Ataka party were involved with clashes with worshippers outside the landmark Banya Bashi mosque in Sofia.

The court ordered Bulgaria to pay 3000 euro, with 4668 euro court costs and expenses, arising from an applicant by Veli Karaahmed, a Bulgarian who was among the worshippers at the mosque.

The incident had political fallout at the time. Outrage against Ataka over the incident led to estrangement between Siderov and the prime minister of the time, Boiko Borissov. Before that, Ataka had been informally backing Borissov’s government formed in 2009.

In May 2011 Ataka organised a demonstration outside Sofia’s only mosque during Friday prayers. Between 100 and 150 members and supporters of Ataka gathered to protest against what they called “howling” coming from the mosque’s loudspeakers. Karaahmed was among the worshippers. The demonstration degenerated into violence with protestors shouting abuse at the worshippers.

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(Banya Bashi Mosque, Sofia. Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)