The southern Bulgarian municipality of Stara Zagora became the second in two days to vote to ban the wearing of the burqa in public places.
The proposal to outlaw the wearing of garments that cover the face while in public was tabled by two councillors, one from GERB – the majority party in the national governing coalition – and the other from the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria, which through the Patriotic Front coalition is part of the government coalition agreement.
Stara Zagora municipality, officially reported to have a population of about 160 000, also banned the holding of public religious events that could disturb the peace of the community or were against “morality and traditions”.
Religious events may be held only in officially-recognised houses of worship, the municipality decided.
The April 28 decision came a day after the municipal council in the southern Bulgarian town of Pazardzhik voted in a similar ban, by an overwhelming majority.
Pazardzhik was the scene of a long-running trial in recent years of a group of Muslims who allegedly had been advocating “radical Islam” and, in violation of Bulgarian law, the overthrow of the state and its replacement by a theocracy.
The trial ended in a jail sentence for one of the 13 accused, and suspended sentences and fines for the others. A new trial of a group of accused on similar charges, including one of those convicted in the previous trial, began in recent months in Pazardzhik.
Media reports have alleged that payments were being made among poor communities, in particular among Roma people, for local women to wear the burqa.
The mainstream of Bulgaria’s Muslim community, including its religious leaders, repeatedly have condemned radical forms of Islam and specifically rejected as un-Islamic the terrorist group Daesh.
The Patriotic Front has, at national level, tabled legislation in the National Assembly to ban the wearing of the burqa in public places. The nationalist coalition is campaigning for every municipality to impose such bans.
(Photo: Hans Braxmeier)