WikiLeaks: Credible Voices in Bulgarian Muslim CommunitiesViews on BG | January 18, 2012, Wednesday // 12:00| views
Mustafa Hadzhi shakes hands with US Ambassador to Sofia, James Warlick, after being reelected as Bulgaria's Chief Mufti in February. Photo by Sofia Photo Agеncy
The following cable was released by WikiLeaks and their official Bulgarian partner, the site for investigative journalism Bivol.bg.
The cable came in the aftermath of Bulgaria publishing the names of senior clergy that collaborated and spied for the former Communist State Security, DS.
The cable, titled IDENTIFYING CREDIBLE VOICES IN MUSLIM COMMUNITIES, sheds light on views of John Beyrle, US Ambassador to Bulgaria before going to Moscow, on Bulgaria's Chief Mufti, Mustafa Hadzhi.
S E C R E T SOFIA 001095
STATE PLEASE PASS TO NCTC LIAISON JAMES VAN DE VELDE AND
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/12/2010
TAGS: PGOV PREL BG
SUBJECT: IDENTIFYING CREDIBLE VOICES IN MUSLIM COMMUNITIES
THAT REJECT VIOLENCE
REF: SECSTATE 122288
Classified By: Political Counselor, Jim Bigus for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (S) SUMMARY. In response to reftel, Post submits Chief Mufti Mustafa Alish Hadji, recognized spiritual leader of the Bulgarian Muslim community, as a credible voice for this exercise. We continue to research potential candidates to supplement this submission. Hadji is a moderate; has a generally positive view of the United States; and does not have any known disagreements with U.S. policy. He is widely respected in the Bulgarian Muslim community, which is approximately 13 percent of the Bulgarian population and is predominately moderate. END SUMMARY.
2. (U) Influence. Hadji was elected Chief Mufti at a conference held in March 20, 2005. Despite an appeal by a rival faction lead by Nedim Gendjev, Hadji is widely respected as the legitimate leader among Muslims. As the highest ranking Muslim religious figure, Hadji has national level influence in Bulgaria. The Rhodope Mountains (along the country's southern border with Greece) is home to many Muslims (including ethnic Turks, Roma, and "Pomaks" (descendants of Slavic Bulgarians who converted to Islam under Ottoman rule). Hadji influences others through oversight and funding of Bulgaria's regional muftis, as well as frequent regional trips, religious services, and lectures.
3. (U) Biological data. Hadji is a Pomak (Bulgarian Muslim) and, like the vast majority of Bulgarian Muslims, follows Sunni Islamic practices. He received religious instruction from his grandfather, who was a local cleric. During the communist era, Hadji was prosecuted for secretly serving at weddings and funerals. Only after the collapse of Communism was he able to officially become an imam. (Note: Unconfirmed rumors suggest that Hadji may have collaborated with the State Security during communist times. End Note.)
From 1997 to 2000, Hadji served as Chief Mufti after being selected as a compromise candidate between rival factions. From 2000 to 2003, he chaired the Supreme Islamic Institute and from 2003 to 2005, he was the rector of the Higher Islamic Institute in Sofia. He graduated from a technical school in forestry in Velingrad. In 1997, he graduated in Theology and Islamic Law in Jordan. He reportedly is studying for a Ph.D. in Islamic sociology from a Turkish University. He is married with two children and speaks Turkish, Arabic, English, and Russian.
4. (U) Policy and Ideology. Hadji is a moderate; has a generally positive view of the United States; and does not have any known disagreements with U.S. policy. Hadji is in regular contact with the Embassy.
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