Bulgaria Shocked as Nationalist Leader Triggers Brawl On Air

Domestic | May 22, 2011, Sunday // 13:37|  views

Nationalist Ataka leader, Volen Siderov, in altercation with police during the brawl in front of the mosque in Sofia. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

The anchor of a popular Bulgarian radio broadcast was forced to interrupt it after a nationalist leader and an ethnic Turkish politician went for a fight while on air.

"The physical clash was provoked by Volen Siderov, there is no point in beating about the bush or lying," the anchor Velichko Konakchiev explained from his studio later, referring to the leader of the nationalist party Ataka.

"The news about the collapse of the communist regime was announced first from this studio, there has never been physical fighting here. I have always managed to be in control of the situation, but today I just couldn't," he added.

"I have never seen such a circus in this studio for the last twenty-one years," Konakchiev said.

In his words Siderov turned on Korman Ismailov, Member of Parliament, who was recently expelled from the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms for his opposition to the leader Ahmed Dogan. He was infuriated by criticism over the recent clashes between members of his nationalist party and Muslims in front the central mosque in Sofia.

On Friday far-right extremists from the Ataka party assaulted praying Muslims. The outburst occurred while the nationalists led by their leader Volen Siderov staged a rally near the Banya Bashi mosque in Sofia protesting against the use of loudspeakers by the mosque.

On Sunday what started as a verbal clash between Siderov and Ismailov soon escalated into a physical fight that led to the interruption of the political broadcast Nedelya 150, which reviews the events from the past week, for about six minutes.

The alleged assault was caused by a picture, which Siderov described as proof that Muslims have triggered the violent clashes in front of the mosque on Friday. According to Siderov the picture clearly showed that one of the men was praying with a knife in his hand.

"These are not praying people, thesy are Islamists. They are provocateurs, they attacked and started to attack our people," said the leader of Ataka.

He said that talk of Bulgaria's ethnic peace is purely hypocritical, having in mind that the city center has been turned in to "a nest of Islamists".

"It will be too late when one of these men blasts the underground in Sofia. This is what happened in Madrid and London. Islamic extremism is threat number one and those who turns a blind eye to it makes a huge mistake," said Siderov.

Korman Ismailov, however, fired back by saying that the picture clearly shows Ataka members turning on those who are praying, a statement, which is believed to have drawn Siderov's ire.

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Tags: nationalist, Ataka, leader, Volen Siderov, muslims, friday prayer, banya bashi mosque, sofia, nationalists, brawl, attack, Ankara, turkey, condemns


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