Bulgarian police arrest 120 after mosque attack

Bulgarian nationalist supporters and football fans shout slogans during a protest rally in the city of Plovdiv, some 120 km (75 miles) east of Sofia Feb. 14, 2014. (Reuters)

Bulgarian police arrested over 120 people on Friday after nationalists and football fans attempted to storm a mosque in the southern European state’s second city of Plovdiv.

A police cordon prevented attempts by the crowd to storm the mosque during Friday prayers, which resulted in the injury of a one policeman and several protesters.

“There was racist and xenophobic chanting and stone throwing,” Interior Ministry Chief of Staff Svetlozar Lazarov said in a television interview, according to Agence France-Presse.

Prosecutors in the capital Sofia prosecutors said they had charged eight people with hooliganism, crimes against religion and xenophobia, Reuters reported.

The incident, which comes amid rising anti-foreign hotility in the European Union’s poorest country, came after a protest by more than 2,000 nationalist and football “ultras” outside Plovdiv’s court of appeal.

‘Vandalistic pogrom’

The crowed wanted to pressure judges into overturning a ruling last year to return an ancient mosque building in the neighboring town of Karlovo to the country’s Grand Mufti.

The Grand Mufti’s office slammed Friday’s violence as a “vandalistic pogrom,” adding that it was “inadmissible for football fans to tell a court how to rule on a case.”

The spiritual head of Bulgaria’s Muslim community has launched 26 court claims for 29 properties around the country in recent years – in a bid to return them from nationalization that began in the early 20th century.

This move has prompted an outburst of nationalist sentiments among the country’s predominantly Orthodox Christian population.

Bulgaria’s large Muslim minority comprises 13 percent of the population.


(With AFP and Reuters)

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:41 - GMT 06:41