Saxe-Coburg Denounces 'Disgraceful' Sofia Mosque Incident

Politics » DOMESTIC | June 1, 2011, Wednesday // 10:43
Bulgaria: Saxe-Coburg Denounces 'Disgraceful' Sofia Mosque Incident Simeon Saxe-Coburg has denounced the incident at the Sofia mosque, which occured on May 20. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's ex-Tsar and former Prime Minister, Simeon Saxe-Coburg has issued a statement denouncing the incident between nationalists and praying Muslims at the Sofia Mosque 10 days ago.

"What happened recently before the Banya Bashi mosque in Sofia can only be described as gruesome, foreign to the nature of the Bulgarian people, and disgraceful for our country. Tolerance for the faith and ethnicity of the others has also been the natural state of our nation. So natural that it doesn't even require an explanation," Saxe-Coburg says in a statement made public by his press office.

On May 20, the far-right party led by Volen Siderov shocked Bulgaria as its rally protesting against the use of loudspeakers by the mosque in downtown Sofia got out of hand, and activists of Ataka assaulted praying Muslims in front of the mosque.

The incident has had wider repercussions, all the way from Bulgarians flocking to lay flowers at the mosque as a sign of apology, to the start of investigation of Ataka for stirring ethnic and religious hatred and the consolidation of the voters of the Bulgarian ethnic Turkish party DPS (Movement for Rights and Freedoms).

"Tolerance for the religion of our compatriots has been one of the things with which Bulgaria has been gaining the respect of others nations for decades. We have provided numerous examples in our past what tolerance, solidarity, and humaneness are all about. Without even thinking about it, just as part of our essence. That is why the disgraceful act before the Muslim temple in our capital is a negation of everything that we are – we, our values, personal lives, our faith, our common history. This is an echo of the totalitarian dictates when our lives were controlled with force, the names of Roma and Muslims were changed, and graves and temples were desecrated. We all suffered from this – Christians, Muslims, Roma, Armenians, Jews," says Saxe-Coburg, who was the last Tsar of the Bulgarians as a minor in 1943-1946, and was Prime Minister of Bulgaria in 2001-2005.

Saxe-Coburg further says that anybody who lived or traveled in the Muslims countries sees the incident in Sofia as an unfathomable and uncivilized attitude.

"It is worrying that because of a small group of people Bulgaria receives unpleasant reproaches in foreign media. The reflections and comments affect our good name, and it is a pity because we are perceived as a tolerant society in which all religious communities live in peace and understanding. We stopped being isolated from the rest of the world a long time ago, that is why it is important what the others think of us. Is that what we want them to think of us? Who do we ourselves think of ourselves?" Saxe-Coburg concludes his statement.

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Tags: Simeon Saxe-Coburg, Ataka, nationalists, far-right, muslims, Bulgarian Muslims, Sofia Mosque, Banya Bashi

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