Two girls aged 15 and 16 have been charged after an assault on the family of Bulgaria’s Deputy Chief Mufti, the Interior Ministry said on June 29.
The teenagers have been charged with hooliganism and placed under the supervision of child services.
The ministry said that the charges followed an incident on June 27 when two women, aged 20 and 16, had been subjected to aggression on leaving a shop in the Svoboda neighbourhood of Bulgaria’s capital Sofia.
The assault was suspected to be because the woman, the wife of Deputy Chief Mufti Birali Birali, a senior leader of Bulgaria’s Muslim community, was wearing a headscarf.
The attack has been condemned by the Bulgarian Jewish community, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, and the Chief Mufti’s office.
The Birali family was in shock because of what happened, the Chief Mufti’s office said.
“The whole Muslim community in our country is very worried, this concern is shared by many non-Muslims who have declared their support to the family. The Chief Mufti of Muslims in the Republic of Bulgaria strongly condemns the hate crime committed, as well as any other form of religious intolerance – no matter what religious community the victims are.
“We believe that the state must take urgent measures to ensure the security of its citizens. At such times we need not new laws on religions but serious work in the sphere of interreligious dialogue, faithful tolerance and the unhindered coexistence of people of different ethnicities, religions and nationalities on the territory of Bulgaria,” the Mufti’s statement said.
In the 21st century, such acts of hatred in a member state of the European Union are contrary to the most basic human rights and freedom – the right to free formation and practice of religious beliefs, the statement said.
“We would like to remind that the majority of Muslims in Bulgaria were born here. Bulgaria is our homeland. We are Bulgarian citizens and our different religions in no way alter our equality. We want to live in peace and tranquility in our homeland. We believe that the institutions will be held accountable for what has happened and the perpetrators will be held accountable for the psycho-emotional and physical trauma of a family of Bulgarian citizens.”