Bulgaria has the obligation to investigate these crimes

| Yuliana Metodieva,

On March 22, the Dimcho Debelyanov Secondary School in Sofia, which teaches Hebrew, fell into the spotlight of public attention. Despite the video cameras, unidentified persons broke through the fence at Bregalnitsa Street and painted shocking signs and words. The signs are strange, intentionally misleading about the ideology of their authors. Apart from the swastika and the Hebrew star connected with the equals sign, there was also the logo of the anarchy movement, an “A” in a circle. And also: “Palestine free of occupation”, “Israel – fascists”.

The school’s principal, Ms. Vesela Paldunova, shared with Obektiv her concern that the police officers at the 3rd District Police Directorate would once again fail to establish the perpetrators. She was firm: “This is not an act of hooliganism, but a racially motivated one.” According to her, the signs were related to Adolf Hitler’s approaching birthday, which usually charges the neo-Nazi groups in Sofia with a desire to publicly manifest their convictions. This opinion is shared by Jewish organization B'nai B'rith. In an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio, Solomon Bali pointed out the fact that the equals sign between the swastika (the symbol of Nazi ideology) and the Star of David (the symbol of Judaism) is political and racist, obviously threatening and targeted at the Jewish community in Bulgaria.[See Report of the B'nai B'rith]. Naturally, there were no consequences.

Was this a hooligan’s act or a neo-Nazi manifestation? Judge for yourself.

In January 2010, neo-Nazis beat a leftist student. Information about this may only be found is some alternative websites.

Two years earlier, in 2007, the police barely prevented a clash between anarchists and neo-Nazis in front of the National Theater. The anarchists hiding their faces behind kerchiefs (“the Nazi are killers and shouldn’t recognize us”) are opposed by young people in black clothes, waving black flags.

For two consecutive years, 2006 and 2007, the haskovo.info website announced the existence of extreme nationalist organizations. The favorite place for their “events” was the Spartak sports field.

In 2007, western media informed abut neo-Nazi rallies in Budapest. The Dulo, a Bulgarian neo-Nazi organization, took part together with Hungarian, German and Czech ultra-right movements.

A website, za-bulgarina [For the Bulgarian], was available until recently in the small town of Karlovo. Apart from other appeals, the site insisted on “white supremacy, interracial discrimination”.

And that’s not all.

In June 2009, the Chief Mufti’s Office came up with a statement with regard to the attacks on Muslim homes [See BHC Annual Report, 2009]. The number exceeded 100 mosques. At the National Assembly, Ahmed Yusein, a member of parliament from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, expressed his concern that the competent bodies are not investigating these cases. Nothing happened. Moreover, in the following months the attacks became more frequent until the mosque in Nikopol was burned to the ground. An unprecedented event. The perpetrators were never found. Other, diverse forms of “vandalism” against Muslim prayer homes followed: painted swastikas, “Turks – out of Bulgaria” signs, etc. The Karlovo mosque was set on fire just a few days ago. As to what caused the fire, the police have “almost” only one possible hypothesis: a faulty electrical system. The imam, however, claims that it was an anti-Muslim act.

On April 20, the Trud daily published a short article about an open letter sent by the Gotse Delchev area mufti, Aydun Mohamed, to the president, the prime minister, the chair of the National Assembly, the prosecutor’s office and the chief mufti. The letter states that “within 10 days the windows of the Blagoevgrad mosque were broken twice, and the building was recently set on fire”. [See The Trud, April 20, 2010]. The mufti was asking for more active involvement of the law enforcement bodies and the judiciary “to preserve our holy Muslim temples”.

The GERB government has the political will to fight crime. Teams were formed, including for the investigation of white collar crimes. It’s obvious that such criminal acts are difficult to solve. On the other hand, the desecration of prayer homes may be easily and quickly solved and the perpetrators caught. Especially so in a small town where everyone knows everybody and the attackers may be identified. And it won’t cost much.

But something else is even more important. Bulgaria is not obliged by international law to persecute VAT fraud. But since it ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1964, Bulgaria assumed the obligation to effectively persecute the perpetrators of acts based on racial and ethnic prejudice. It also assumed the obligation to defend the rights of the sexually different. Later, the European Convention on Human Rights and many others were also added. We need to see whether these documents will be transformed in actions.