Racism in the Media, Yet Another Hot Potato for Bulgaria

Editorial |Author: Irina Samokovska | January 20, 2012, Friday // 15:08|  views

You might have been led to believe that some sort of discrimination scandal erupted in Bulgaria a few days ago.

You might also like to reconsider your point of view on the matter.

The January 18 print edition of sports daily "7 Dni Sport" ("7 Days Sport") featured a lead article titled "CSKA's New Players - Italian, Swede and Two Blackies".

The first to react to the situation were the Association of European Journalists in Bulgaria (AEJ) and the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC).

On January 19, the AEJ sent an open letter to Chief Prosecutor Boris Velchev insisting that the Prosecutor's Office self-initiate proceedings over a crime involving race-based incitement to discrimination and hatred.

The AEJ called for holding liable the authors of the article, the duty editor, the editor-in-chief and all other higher-ranking people who had approved the publication of the title, including the publisher.

At the same time, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) sent a letter to the editorial board of the sports newspaper, asking them to change the wording of the title or face sanctions by the Commission for Protection against Discrimination (KZD).

January 20 saw the editor-in-chief flatly deny a racist dimension to the word.

Yuli Moskov claimed "blackies" was no more than slang, for which he refused to publish an apology note.

KZD Chair Kemal Eyup said in a statement later the same day that "the necessary steps" were being taken.

In the meantime, reports started circulating that the b-word had been a regular occurrence in articles of the sports media and that it had been only a matter of time until it surfaced in a prominent position.

The scandal of the last two days is indeed a scandal, but it is not about racism.

Non-street educated Bulgarians will not fail to acknowledge the derogatory meaning of the word.

The real scandal is that the institutions in charge take ages to stir into action, impose all too lenient penalties, if any, and therefore fail to prevent abuses from recurring.

At the same time, the community cannot summon the power to categorically denounce such acts and prefers to play the role of the observer and the timekeeper.

How long will it take this time?

How long will the authorities take to certify the offender as offender?

Or will the schemer yet again make it through one of the numerous loopholes?

This climate of unpunishability for acts inciting intolerance is the perfect breeding ground for sports hooligans.

And this is where things cease to be funny.

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Tags: sports daily, racism, Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, BHC, discrimination, discrimination commission


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