Bulgaria: Mob of alleged Vuzrazhdane supporters hurls antisemitic insults at Jewish MP

In an incident on March 14, a mob – alleged to be supporters of pro-Russian minority party Vuzrazhdane – trapped We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria MP Daniel Lorer in a cafe near Parliament, shouting antisemitic and other insults at him.

A video of just more three minutes posted online shows the aggressive crowd blocking the entrance to the cafe, some shouting at Lorer to come out.

Shouts heard include “Satan” and, to the first two police to arrive, “arrest him for treason”.

Eventually, a phalanx of police escorts Lorer across the road, enabling him to enter the building of the National Assembly. There are shouts of “Jewish garbage”, “Zionist” and “go on, go to Ukraine”.

A statement by WCC said that the group had been identified by the media as supporters of Vuzrazhdane.

Lorer had been a victim of hooliganism and hate speech based on his Jewish origin, WCC said.

WCC said that it firmly opposes any kind of discriminatory speech and hooligan attacks.

“For us, as a party in a member state of the European Union, it is unacceptable in the 21st century that such harassment on ethnic or religious grounds still exists.”

WCC said that it had repeatedly proven itself to be a supporter of freedom of expression, but remains a fierce opponent of hate speech.

“We are using this occasion to once again express strong concern over the so far unpunished incitement of ethnic hatred in Bulgarian society. With the clear awareness that it is being done with pre-election goals, we are convinced that the silent encouragement of such behaviour is far from harmless.”

WCC called for those involved in the hooligan attack to be brought to justice.

The government information service said on March 15 that Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov expects quick and decisive actions to bring to justice the citizens who attacked Lorer on March 14 because of his ethnicity.

According to the Sofia directorate of the Interior Ministry, the identity of some of the participants in the aggression was established today.

“All forms of violence, discrimination and hatred on a racial and ethnic basis violate basic human and constitutional rights and are unacceptable in the free and democratic Bulgarian society,” Denkov said.

“Only with a quick and decisive response from the judicial authorities can the feeling of impunity be eradicated and the escalation of such manifestations be prevented as the European elections approach,” he said.

The incident was condemned by the Organisation of the Jews in Bulgaria Shalom

“Once again, we are addressing all Bulgarian political parties and public figures on the eve of the next election campaign. Antisemitism, xenophobia and discrimination, as well as hate speech, have no place in political debate and are not an instrument of democracy in civil society,” Shalom said.

“We expect that these events will be denounced by the leaders of the political forces and will not become a tool for policy making,” the organisation said.

“We call on the Bulgarian institutions to take up the matter themselves and investigate what happened, and we hope that the culprits will be punished in accordance with the laws of the country.”

The Sofia Globe staff

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