Bulgarian Jewish organisations, in a statement on June 28, condemned the previous day’s assault on the wife and two daughters of Birali Birali, Deputy Chief Mufti of Bulgaria and one of the leaders of the country’s Muslim community.
The assault on the family took place as they were emerging from a supermarket in Sofia. The attack by a group of youths is suspected to have been prompted by the fact that the Muslim family were wearing headscarves.
In a joint statement, the Shalom Organisation of the Jews in Bulgaria and the Central Israelite Spiritual Council quoted the Bulgarian constitution saying that freedom of conscience, freedom of thought and the choice of religion and of religious or atheistic views are inviolable, and the state assists in maintaining tolerance and respect among believers of different faiths, as well as among believers and unbelievers.
“We are most sincerely sympathetic to the entire Birali Birali family for the stress and physical pain experienced,” the Jewish organisations saying, extending their deep sympathy and support.
“At the same time, we believe that law enforcement will do their best to find the perpetrators, and they will bear all responsibility for this criminal act.”
Shalom’s statement said that Bulgaria was a rule of law state and the right of freedom of religion was guaranteed by the constitution.
“And this guarantee obliges politicians, civil servants and law enforcement and law enforcement officials above all to respect and comply with these rights and freedoms of Bulgarian citizens.”
The laws of the country must be respected, the privacy and the security of the individual must be guaranteed by the law enforcement authorities, and the law enforcement authorities should apply the law in its full force, the statement said.
Condemning the incident, the Bulgarian Jewish organisations’ statement issued an appeal for such xenophobia and intolerance not to be allowed, and called on all of society, “especially the politicians and leaders of the country, to pay particular attention to acts of hate speech and the incitement of ethnic and religious intolerance”.
The Bulgarian National Assembly’s fourth-largest party, the opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms, said on June 28 that it strongly condemns any manifestation of division and hatred, any demonstration of intolerance, ethnic and religious confrontation.
In a statement in the House on behalf of the MRF, party leader Mustafa Karadaya called on GERB, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s party that is the majority partner in government, “to assume its responsibility and take all necessary appropriate action to punish the perpetrators, to eliminate all prerequisites for such acts and to take effective measures to overcome them in the future”.
GERB had to take responsibility for everything that threatens democracy and peace in the country, Karadaya said.
(Photo, of the Banya Bashi mosque in Sofia, with the Sofia Central Synagogue to the right at the rear: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)