Bulgarian Top Diplomat Mends Ties with Muslim Colleagues over Mosque Incident

Diplomacy | May 31, 2011, Tuesday // 15:41|  views

Bulgarians have been laying flowers at the Sofia mosque to apologize for what they see as a shameful assault on praying Muslims by the nationalist party Ataka. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's Foreign Affairs Minister, Nikolay Mladenov, met Monday with the Ambassadors in Sofia from Islamic countries on his own invitation.

The goal of the meeting was to clarify the official position of the cabinet regarding the May 20th incident at a downtown Sofia mosque, the Ministry spokesperson, Vesela Cherneva reported.

On Friday, May 20 supporters of the far-right, nationalist Ataka party, led by party Chair, Volen Siderov, shocked Bulgaria as their rally protesting against the use of loudspeakers by the Banya Bashi mosque in Sofia got out of hand, with Ataka activists accused of assaulting praying Muslims in front of the mosque.

Mladenov informed the diplomats about the official declaration of the Parliament, condemning attempts to sabotage ethnic peace in the country. He voiced his expectation the Prosecutor's Office will very soon press charges against those responsible for the violence.

This extremely unpleasant and unacceptable incident actually generated more support among Bulgarians for the peaceful coexistence of different ethnic groups in the country," the Minister stated.

The Egypt Ambassador, Olfat Farah, spoke in the name of her colleagues, voicing their opinion a single incident could not cast a shadow on the traditionally good relations between Bulgaria and the Muslim world.

The incident has had already repercussions, all the way from Bulgarians flocking to lay flowers at the mosque as a sign of apology, to the start of investigation of Ataka for stirring ethnic and religious hatred and the consolidation of the voters of the Bulgarian ethnic Turkish party DPS (Movement for Rights and Freedoms).

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Tags: Ataka, muslims, mosque, Banya Bashi, Bulgarian Parliament, ethnic tolerance, Volen, Siderov, Ambassadors, Islamic, Foreign Affairs Minister, Nikolay Mladenov, Olfat Farah


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