Bulgaria Chief Prosecutor Speaks Out against Burqas in Public
No burqas should be worn in public in Bulgaria, Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov has said.
Tsatsarov has commented in relation to an ongoing trial against 14 people accused in spreading anti-democratic ideology and war propaganda.
In Pazardzhik, where the trial is taking place, Tsatsarov has told reporters Bulgarian legislation needs to be amended to address flaws that do not contribute to the fight against terrorism.
The defendants were arrested in November of 2014. One of them, Ahmed Musa Ahmed, is thought to have links to an Austria-based cell of the so-called Islamic State (IS) group. Earlier, investigators found video footage and literature allegedly showing Ahmed Musa Ahmed and his supporters embracing jihadist ideology. Allegations have also been hurled that he helped potential jihadist fighters who are en route to Syria via Bulgaria.
In the Pazardzhik neighborhood where the defendants were allegedly active, their wives could be seen wearing burqas and embracing different extreme currents of Islam.
News website Dnevnik.bg quotes Tsatsarov as saying the Criminal Code does not give prosecutors enough authority to react in an appropriate way to cases of war propaganda, which does not qualify as a "crime against the republic".
Referring to his suggestion that a burqa ban should be enforced for public places, Tsatsarov has warned that "a very careful" approach and a discussion are needed in order "not to affect religious feelings".
Tsatsarov has also questioned double standards for preaching licenses, with restrictions being tighter for Christian clerics that for certain religions, calling for a rigid approach to be applied by all denominations.
His comments are a reference to the revelations that defendant Ahmed Musa Ahmed and some of his alleged accomplices had degrees from Saudi Arabia, and the mosque where the former had proclaimed himself imam had been financed by foreign foundations.
They also follow a recent demand by nationalist MEP Angel Dzhambazki that all "non-traditional" religious symbols be barred from Bulgaria's public space, including burqas. Dzhambazki also called for a ban on the construction of any new "mosques and minarets" across the country.
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