Ahead of a signing ceremony at the Cabinet office in Sofia on February 16, a number of prominent figures have publicly stated support for the manifesto “Bulgarians united against hate speech”.
Launched in September 2018, the manifesto’s pledges include: “We sign this manifesto as our pledge not only not to use hate speech ourselves, but also never to be silent or passive when others use hate speech”.
The manifesto is an initiative by the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom” and is under the auspices of the mayor of Sofia and Bulgaria’s National Co-ordinator of the fight against antisemitism and hate speech.
On Facebook, videos have been posted of people from various walks of life stating their support for the manifesto.
Nikolai Mladenov, UN Special Envoy for the Middle East Peace Process, said; “I support the manifesto because I am convinced that Bulgaria always has been a should be an example of tolerance not only in the Balkans, in Europe, but also beyond the European continent”.
Deputy Foreign Minister Georg Georgiev, the National Co-ordinator against Antisemitism, said that in Bulgaria “we must provide an environment free of all forms of intolerance, racism and intolerance towards those who are different”.
Israeli ambassador to Bulgaria Irit Lilian said that she was signing the petition because hate speech is destroying the fundamentals of society.
Sofia deputy mayor Todor Chobanov said: “I support the manifesto with the clear conviction that in the history of our city, we have proven that it – the city of the Wisdom of God (a reference to the meaning of the name Sofia) – can harmonise communities and religions together, as has been done for centuries”.
“I’m joining in signing the Manifesto Against Hate Speech because I have very deep respect for Bulgarian people, for Bulgarian democracy and for Bulgarian city and federal authorities who are fighting the neo-Nazi political movements and who are fighting for the freedom and democracy of its people. Never again, hatred should be allowed on the streets of any city and definitely not on the streets of the beautiful city of Sofia,” Robert Singer, Executive Vice-President and CEO of the World Jewish Congress, said.
The president of the National Council of Religious Communities of Bulgaria, Deputy Chief Mufti Birali Myumyun, said: “I am signing the manifesto because hate is an emotion that severely destroys man and society as a whole. Hatred has never been among the alternatives to resolve our differences”.
Associate Professor Alexander Oscar, president of the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom” said that he had signed the manifesto “because I believe in the future of Bulgaria. Because the language of hatred has no place in our society”.
Sofia Cohen, president of the Central Israelite Religious Council of Bulgaria, said: “Just as Bulgarian society did not succumb to hatred during the Second World War and rescued its Jewish compatriots from the death camps, let us not succumb to manipulations that set us against each other”.
The head of Bulgaria’s Commission for Protection against Discrimination, Anna Dzhumalieva, said that the commission had noted an escalation of hate speech in public rhetoric and social networks. “The commission considers it unacceptable to use the language of hate in public communications. So I am signing the manifesto, because together we are stronger.”
Viktor Melamed, director of the Sofia office of the American Jewish Committee, expressing support for the manifesto, said that he believed that it would be understood and signed by many Bulgarians.
Others who have posted video messages in support of the manifesto, as at February 15, include history teacher Emil Jassim, the head of Shalom’s Institute for the Preservation of Holocaust Memory in Bulgaria, Beta Haralanova, expert at the National Council for Co-operation on Ethnic and Integration Issues at the Cabinet office, Nikola Petkov, New Bulgarian University Professor of Political Science Anna Krasteva, Dessislava Abrasheva, Xplora BG digital agency manager Georgi Malchev, the GLAS Foundation and Sofia Pride’s Simeon Vassilev, Bulgarian Socialist Party leader in the Sofia city council Kaloyan Pargov, Viber general manager for Central and Eastern Europe Atanas Raykov, journalist Maria Kassimova-Moisset, Magic Radio and TV Bulgaria presenter Dimitar Pavlov, All Channels Communication’s Alexander Dourchev, children’s rights activist Alexander Milanov, Radio FM+ presenters and journalists Elena Rosberg, Evelina Pavlova and Iva Doychinova, journalist and radio host Simeon Kolev, Mish Mash Fest creators Kosara Chirireva and Levena Lazarova, BG Radio programme director Irina Toncheva, Maiko Mila’s Krassimira and Elisaveta, director Stoyan Radev, Listen Up and Live youth organisation for the hearing-impaired, theatre director Marius Donkin, The Smarts co-founder Radoslav Bimbalov, Alexandrovska University executive director Kostadin Angelov, Innovation agency’s Leona Aslanova, musician and producer Nikolia Madzharov, Sofia University history student Todor Borissov, journalist and TV producer Georgi Toshev, Shalom executive board member Stella Shekerdzhiska, jazz singer and broadcaster Miroslava Katsarova, Shalom executive director Julia Dandolova, the head of the Association of Cancer Patients Evgenia Alexandrova, Internet Society of Bulgaria founder Veni Markovski, M3 Communications Group CEO Maxim Behar, Marginalia human rights NGO’s Yuliana Metodieva and Sofia University Professor Albena Taneva.