Huge crowd of 2,000+ angry Bulgarians smashed windows and set off smoke bombs at Dzhumaya mosque in Ploviv as they step up protests against the country-wide litigation jihad by Islamic organizations trying to grab all the old mosque properties and Islamic buildings from the Ottoman Empire era. Tensions are also high due to recent wave of Syrian refugees and many Muslim illegal immigrants from North Africa after Greece closed its borders.
AA.com (h/t Pavel P) Almost 2,000 Bulgarians gathered in front of a court in the country’s second largest city, Plovdiv, on Friday to protest a case that could see the return of the city’s historic Kursin mosque to the country’s Muslim community.
The head of the Office of Bulgarian Islamic Affairs is filing for the return of the 528-year-old Kursun mosque as part of a series of cases requesting the government return foundation properties that were seized during the communist era. Another case, for the return of Hamza Bey mosque,was rejected by the Stara Zagora country court in Bulgaria in December 2013.
Office of Bulgarian Islamic Affairs head Ahmed Ahmedov claimed nationalist and racist blocks in Bulgaria have stepped up their aggressive acts against local and foreign Muslims amid a recent influx of Arab and African refugees in the country.
Sofia Globe Hurling paving stones, rocks and fireworks, a large mob of protesters smashed windows of Plovdiv’s historic Dzhumaya Mosque in the centre of Bulgaria’s second city.
The February 14 protest was the latest in a series against court applications by the office of the Chief Mufti, spiritual leader of Bulgaria’s Muslims, for properties that used to be owned by the Muslim community during the Ottoman Empire. The court applications have been lodged under the country’s Religious Denominations Act, which makes provision for such applications by all officially recognised religious groups in Bulgaria.
A large cordon of police in riot gear stood between the crowd and the mosque building, which also features a recently-reopened cafe offering Turkish delicacies, but the missiles were hurled over the heads of the police.
While the crowd were at the mosque, each blast of a firecracker or sound of breaking glass was greeted by cheers from the mob. After the smashing of windows, police began to attempt to move the crowd, unofficially estimated at 2000 people, back. During this engagement, three people were injured and one arrested.
The Turkish Consulate in Plovdiv and the office of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, a liberal, predominantly ethnic Turkish party, were later also attacked by angry hooligans. Reporters at the scene said that at the Turkish consulate, which is some distance away adjoining Plovdiv’s city park, demonstrators shouted, “you are not Europeans, you are barbarians”.
Demonstrators also marched in the direction of the city headquarters of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the party led and supported in the main by Bulgarians of ethnic Turkish descent, saying that they wanted to occupy the building. Demonstrators chanted “freedom or death” and “down with the MRF”.
According to the February 2011 census in Bulgaria, just less than eight per cent of the country’s total population of about 7.3 million are Muslims.
Muslim and Turkish symbols are a preferred target for hatred among ultra-nationalist groups in Bulgaria, who invoke the five centuries of Ottoman rule and claim a supposed plot to “Islamicise” modern Bulgaria.
For nationalist parties such as Ataka, campaigning against Turkey’s possible entry into the EU, against official Bulgarian government policy, is a signature issue.
Muslims also were targeted by far-right and ultra-nationalist groups in 2013 when there was a notable increase in refugees in Bulgaria from the Middle East and North Africa, mainly because of the Syria crisis.
Today, there was also a scandal in the parliament when the Turkish party asked for a law to allow political advertisements and public meetings in Turkish.
Plovdivutre Protesters said, “We will not let the howling minarets to silence churches in the town of Levski. Today blood is not shed, there were only national flags. There was love and anger. We are only Bulgarians, who are fighting for their land. Plovdiv, come out to defend their city.
There are historical and moral reasons that make such things unworthy. A law should reflect fairness and morality. Bulgarian court must be dependent on the will of the Bulgarian people and interest declared supporters of football teams.
Angry, violent protests against Muslims have been going on for several years in Bulgaria: