Friday, May 27, 2011

Violence in Sofia

Last week, members of the nationalist party, Ataka, disrupted the prayer outside the mosque in downtown Sofia. Their demonstration turned violent when some of the members took prayer rugs and burned them. Fighting broke out. I missed it, because I was in Turkey.
This week, however, I made it to Friday prayer. It didn't look like Ataka was there, and everyone was praying peacefully. I stayed for the whole thing, and afterward, I saw a couple of older Bulgarians speaking about how Bulgaria was for Bulgarians- meaning Christians. The camera approached me and I may be on the news tonight on Channel 7. Speaking poor Bulgarian. I hopefully conveyed that I thought multiculturalism is good and a healthy part of society, but I was quite awkward.
The whole situation really makes me sick of Bulgarian politics. I don't know who can take Ataka and their leader, Siderov, seriously. Yet they get around 8% of the votes during elections. The party I study, the MRF, and Ataka seem to live off of each other. The MRF argues that their presence in Bulgaria keeps ethnic minorities safe. Ataka argues that without their presence, the Turks would take over the country. These are two of the smaller parties, but are needed to make coalition governments.
I've been waiting for the response from parliament about this ridiculous and racist incident. They finally made a statement:
"The Members of Parliament condemn decisively Ataka's aggression on May 20 2011 against the prayers in downtown Sofia. What is most outrageous is that the attack took place on Friday, which is holy for the Muslims, during their Friday prayer...The party's behavior is completely untypical for the Bulgarian nation, for its religious and ethnic tolerance...With its aggressive attempt against the ethnic peace, jeopardizing Bulgaria's national security, Ataka has become dangerous for the Bulgarian rule."
Hopefully this means the demise of Ataka and any other party that bases its platform on hatred and racism. 

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