Shalom Bulgarian Jewish organisation holds talks with Movement for Rights and Freedoms

Leaders of the Shalom Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria held talks on October 3 with representatives of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the fourth-largest group in Bulgaria’s National Assembly.

The talks followed a declaration by the MRF condemning the September 2017 desecration of tombstones in the Jewish section of Sofia Central Cemetery.

The meeting with the MRF was the third in a series, after Shalom met leaders of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party, the majority partner in government, and the largest opposition parliamentary group, the Bulgarian Socialist Party.

Speaking at the talks with the MRF, Shalom president Dr Alek Oscar said that although Shalom was a non-partisan organisation, it “cannot be apolitical when faced with processes and challenges that pose a threat to our entire society”.

These were the lack of reaction against hate speech and anti-Semitic statements by public figures, as well as the uninhibited conduct of neo-fascist processions such as the Lukov March planned for Sofia, in the centre of the capital of Bulgaria’s European Union Presidency in 2018.

The Lukov March has been held annually for several years in Sofia, in honour of a pro-Nazi general who led the ultra-right Union of Bulgarian National Legions in the 1930s and 1940s.

Maxim Benevenisti, of Shalom’s executive bureau, gave a briefing on the concept of marking in 2018 the 75th anniversary of the prevention of the deportation of Bulgarian Jews to the Holocaust death camps and the deportation of the Jews from Bulgaria’s “new territories” of the time. The latter became among the more than six million Jews murdered by the Nazis.

The concept includes the idea of creating a Bulgarian pantheon of the righteous who helped their fellow-citizens of Jewish origin in the years of the Second World War.

Shalom said that all in the meeting agreed that public organisations, whether civic or political, cannot remain indifferent to the troublesome processes that are taking place in Bulgarian society, “and the deeds that we do today will decide the future of coming generations”.

The MRF, whose delegation was headed by party leader Mustafa Karadaya, associated itself with the Shalom declaration against the Lukov March planned for February 2018, and confirmed that each year, they will issue their own stance against the march.

The concept that united the meeting was “freedom, responsibility and tolerance,” Shalom said.

(Photo: MRF press centre)



Clive Leviev-Sawyer

Clive Leviev-Sawyer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe. He is the author of the book Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century (Riva Publishers, 2015), and co-author of the book Bulgarian Jews: Living History (The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria 'Shalom', 2018). He is also the author of Power: A Political Novel, available via, and, on the lighter side, Whiskers And Other Short Tales of Cats (2021), also available via Amazon. He has translated books and numerous texts from Bulgarian into English.