More than 100 volunteers turned out on September 16 to take part in an initiative by the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom” and Sofia municipality to clean off swastikas and other symbols of hatred from walls in the centre of the Bulgarian capital city.
The initiative “Let’s Clean Hatred off the Streets of Sofia” was part of the long-term initiative by Shalom and Sofia municipality, with the backing of the Sofia Development Association, “Sofia – City of Tolerance and Wisdom”. It came a few days after the launch of a manifesto against hate speech and intolerance.
Shalom expressed thanks for logistical and other support from the Metropolitan Inspectorate, the organisation’s partners from Marginalia, the councillors from Sofia City Council who joined in, the embassies of Israel, the United State and Russia, the Bulgarian office of the American Jewish Committee, the “Negev” association of Friends of Israel in Bulgaria, the Bulgarian delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, students in Jewish Studies at Sofia University and others who volunteered to take part in the clean-up action.
Sofia deputy mayor Todor Chobanov, speaking at the starting point at Saint Sofia church, said that there hardly a better choice of starting point because it was there that in the year 311 that Emperor Galerius had issued the Edict of Toleration, ending the persecution of Christians and introducing religious freedom.
Shalom president Dr Alexander Oscar said: “We know from our Jewish history what it is to be persecuted, to have no one to protect you. So, here and now, together we must issue a call for tolerance, for a world of justice for all, in which no one would be persecuted.
“We cannot remain indifferent to the language of hatred that surrounds us on the walls of the buildings in our city. Today’s initiative is an act of implacability, of the struggle for our future,” he said.