Bulgaria Security Agency Busts Mayor, Teacher over Radical Islamism
Bulgaria’s State National Security Agency DANS has arrested a village mayor and a teacher of religion over the promotion of radical Islamism.
The Mayor of the village of Garmen, Ahmed Bashev, and the teacher of Islam in the elementary school of the nearby village of Ribnovo, Murat Boshnak, were captured in a special operation which was completed around 3 am on Monday by DANS agents, and were brought to the Agency detention center in Sofia.
DANS has announced that Bashev and Boshnak will be investigated by the Sofia City Prosecutor's Office for exerting pressure on others to force them to practice religion and for instigating religious hatred and ethnic hostility.
The arrests have happened after last week the leader of the Order, Law, Justice party, MP Yane Yanev, presented publicly reports claiming that radical Islam was being promoted in the mountain villages of Southwest Bulgaria.
According to Yanev, the forcibly promoted radical Islamism in the region was supported with funding by Arab foundations.
He pointed out that the headmaster of the school in the village of Ribnovo, Feim Isa, was forcing the students to wear Islamic clothing such as head scarves.
Isa also appointed the teacher of Islam, Murat Boshnak, who does not have a certificate of college education, which is valid in Bulgaria but claims he had studied religion in Skopje, Macedonia.
Boshnak made the kids in the school address him as “aga”, rather than as “gospodin” (“sir”), and prevented girls in the village from going to their prom, and from wearing secular clothing. Locals claim Boshnak studied in Saudi Arabia.
Bashev, who is the Mayor of the village of Garmen, and of the Garmen Municipality, where Ribnovo is located, and Boshnak are said to be close associates.
After MP Yanev presented his reports about the forcible islamization of the Garmen Municipality, Bashev issued threats against him.
The villages of Garmen and Ribnovo have populations of 1 700 and 2 400 respectively. Almost 100% of their populations are made up of the so called Pomaks – ethnic Bulgarians whose forbears were converted to Islam during the Ottoman Empire period.
The Garmen Mayor, Ahmed Bashev, won the 2007 Local Elections by 55% (4 993 votes) as an independent candidate of a local initiative committee. The candidate of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms party (DPS – which is part of Bulgaria’s ruling three-way coalition), Galip Misirkov, came in second with 38,5% (3 488 votes).
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