Bulgaria's Chief Mufti Reelected amid Claims of 'Illegitimacy'

Politics » DOMESTIC | January 25, 2016, Monday // 08:00
Bulgaria: Bulgaria's Chief Mufti Reelected amid Claims of 'Illegitimacy' A file photo of Bulgarian Prime MInister Boyko Borisov and Chief Mufti Mustafa Hadzhi. Photo: Government Information Service

Mustafa Hadzhi was reelected on Sunday as Chief Mufti of Bulgaria, at a conference at a session of the country's Muslim officials where he was the single candidate.

All of the 991 delegates who were present approved the candidacy, this giving Hadzhi a third term in office (he was also reelected with no rivals in February of 2011).

"Despite the events on a global scale tarnishing the good name of Islam, Muslims in Bulgaria have proved to be peaceful representatives of Islam. This, of course, should not be taken for granted and we have put forth effort to preserve the country as an island of peace and tolerance, as a model of peaceful coexistence of religions and ethnic groups," daily Trud quotes him as saying at a press conference.

The event took place amid claims that the Muslim leadership of Bulgaria is "illegitimate". Nedim Gendzhev, a former Chief Mufti, has contested its right to act as Bulgarian Muslims' supreme institution since the 2000s.

Some critics (Gendzhev included) of the Mufti's Office have warned of potential influence that Turkey could wield on the institution through funding of schools or cultural institutions for Bulgaria's Muslims who make up for more than a tenth of the population.

The office, however, maintains the option to receive such funding has been stipulated in legislation dating back to 1999, when Bulgaria and Turkey signed an agreement.

Earlier, Hadzhi had warned of attempts by "certain groups in the country" to sabotage the forthcoming "free election" of Bulgaria's Muslim leadership.

The Sunday conference was attended by officials from predominantly ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) party, but also by its former leader Lyutvi Mestan, who was expelled in December.

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Tags: Mustafa Hadzhi, Chief Mufti, Chief Mufti's Office, DPS, Movement for Rights and Freedoms

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