Blvd. Maria Luiza in Sofia: Drowning in Crime Committed by Immigrants?

Written by on July 29, 2016 in Bulgaria - No comments

Boulevard Maria Luiza in the center of Sofia is well known to many expats in Bulgaria, because it houses the Immigration Office. Every day, expats from all over the planet go there to read posts they can not read (since they are all in Bulgarian), to listen to instructions they do not understand (since they are all in Bulgarian) and to get their papers in order. You need a new lichna karta? This is your place. Love birds from France, Mormon missionaries from Utah, entrepreneurs from Germany, pensioners from the United Kingdom: We all need this office.

Today, Boulevard Maria Luiza was in the headlines. And it did not sound good. The publication reports, lots of stores in that area had been forced to close, because of large numbers of refugees, who were walking around. According to the article, the foreigners in question are mostly of Arabic origin, “wandering on the sidewalks”. Shops were disappearing more and more, it says, while other businesses with Arabic signs replaced them. The publication is saying, Bulgarians were afraid to go there and that there had been robberies. An increased police presence did not improve the situation. Also, reports, there had been cases of sexual harassment. In one case, a lady had been harassed at a bus stop, by a larger number of foreign men.

That report, if accurate, reminds us of what happened in several German cities some months ago. Also, a lady told Foreigners & Friends, she had been followed by a man, who seemed to be of Arabic origin, in the same area. This happened two days ago. She stated, he kept on getting closer to her constantly, until she ran towards him, shouting at him to leave her alone. That was when he fled, since he obviously picked the “wrong” lady.

So, are there incidents of this kind on and around Blvd. Maria Luiza? Yes, that is what it looks like. Are those incidents despicable? Yes. Has it happened before, here and elsewhere in Europe? Absolutely.

There is a “but” though. In the article mentioned above, a picture showing Black men climbing into a building through windows, does not have captions which would give the reader information about the source. The photo does not even look like it was taken in Bulgaria, but the latter can not be ruled out either. Also, the piece they published moves on to quoting police about similar incidents at Sofia’s central station. They supposedly said they did not know whether the perpetrators were “Roma or refugees”, since they “did not speak”. It was “difficult to understand what kind of nationality or ethnicity they are part of”. So, the Sofia police does not manage to tell difference between refugees from Afghanistan or Syria on the one and Roma on the other hand?

I don’t buy it. While not disputing that there are despicable robberies and instances of sexual harassment, I would say the following: That weird picture, along with the notion, transported between the lines, that refugees and Roma were criminals and all the same, feels like one thing to me: Racism, on the part of both the police and that publication. And that is just as heinous as any crimes, which took place.

By Imanuel Marcus

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