Bulgaria: Council of Religious Communities and Socialists against ‘Lukov March’

Written by on February 9, 2018 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Bulgaria: Council of Religious Communities and Socialists against ‘Lukov March’

The number of organisations which demand an effective ban of a major neo-Nazi event scheduled for February 17 in the Bulgarian capital city of Sofia is growing. The National Council of Religious Communities in Bulgaria (NCRC), which includes Christians, Muslim and Jewish congregations, said in a statement it was “deeply concerned” about the so-called “Lukov March”.

Lieutenant General Hristo Lukov, whom the organisers have been honouring with the march for 15 years,  had anti-Semitic views and was “one of the key figures who contributed to the accession of Bulgaria to the Axis countries during the Second World War,” the NCRC said.

The aim of the torch procession was spreading “neo-Nazi and xenophobic ideas”, the NCRC statement reads. “It will only incite hatred”, the Council believes. “Such manifestations often end with acts of vandalism and violence. They are disgraceful to a peaceful and tolerant society, such as the Bulgarian one.”

“We believe that the taking place of this event for 15 years is in complete contradiction with the centuries-old peaceful coexistence of different ethnicities and religions on the territory of Bulgaria.”

A lot of opposition to the planned demonstration has been voiced. The National Council of Religious Communities in Bulgaria is not alone with its point of view. A separate online petition is calling on Bulgarian Orthodox Church Patriarch Neofit to speak out against the Nazi event.

At Sofia’s City Council, the socialist politician Kaloyan Pargov said that his party would not allow the city to become the “capital of fascism in Europe”. In a statement by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) it said that history had shown that Bulgarian citizens had never fallen for “dark-minded ideology, such as the ‘brown plague’.”

The BSP said it would be “a huge mistake for Sofia Municipality to allow such a procession,” and prompted mayor Yordanka Fandukova to “clearly state her position on the topic.”

Fandukova, who is a member of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party, actually demonstrated what she thinks of the event, by banning it. But the Lukov March 2018 is expected to proceed anyway, after organisers secured a court order overturning the ban.

Two days before the march, a major event is being held at Sofia University, under the patronage of Fandukova, “Sofia says no to hate speech and extremism“. The Lukov March organisers intend to disrupt that event, according to what it says on one of their websites.

Bulgaria’s Jewish organisation Shalom released a declaration against the Nazi procession in October. The World Jewish Congress (WJC) started an online petition against the march, which has been signed by almost 178 000 people by now.

The WJC’s Executive Officer Robert Singer (read The Sofia Globe’s interview with him) met Borissov during his visit to Bulgaria last week, and gave him a folder with 175 000 signatures, which had been collected by then.

In an opinion piece he wrote for the “EU Observer”, Singer said that every year in February, far-right extremists from across Europe flocked to Sofia to pay tribute “to a notorious Bulgarian anti-Semite, whose movement helped the Nazis send more than 11 300 Jews to their death in Treblinka during World War II.”

“Lukov was one of Hitler’s willing helpers,” Singer said. “The Bulgarian government’s calls to ban this march as a threat to public order repeatedly fall on deaf ears. This year, we must put a stop to this phenomenon.”






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