Recently there has been a series of violent clashes between Bulgarian protestors and Roma communities. The initial cause of the tension was the death of an ethnic Bulgarian, Angel Petrov, after he was hit by a minibus driven by a Roma man on 23 September. (The driver has been arrested).
Anti-Roma protests first targeted the house of a wealthy local Roma man, Kiril Rashkov, which was set on fire. Rashkov is alleged to have been behind Petrov’s death, following a feud. Over the next few days the demonstrations continued, joined by groups of nationalists and neo-Nazis, resulting in some injuries to Roma, as well as an atmosphere of fear.
The protests spread to more than 20 Bulgarian cities, including Sofia. Roma neighbourhoods had to be barricaded off, to protect them the demonstrators, some of whom shouted ‘gypsies into glue’. But in this article a local ethnic Bulgarian discusses his regret that local anger against Rashkov, had led to violence against the Roma community as a whole. “We are living together with the Roma and we don’t have any problems.”
The nationalist party Ataka, which gained 10% of the vote in the 2009 elections, has been capitalising on the clashes, handing out inflammatory pamphlets:
The 28-page black-and-white booklet contains publications and speeches of Siderov [Volen Siderov, Ataka’s leader] from 2006 til present in which he dwells on the “Gypsisation” of Bulgaria and on gypsy crime, according to a report of Capital weekly.
It also includes selective excerpts from media reports about grave offences committed by Roma people put together with the purpose of inciting ethnic hatred.
Volen Siderov can’t be accused of not being an equal opportunities bigot. Earlier this year, his Ataka party was also behind protests targeted at Sofia’s mosque. And here are a couple of examples of his florid antisemitism.
“Enslaving other peoples has been the World’s Jewish elite main purpose since many centuries”, “The genocide against Russians, Bulgarians and other Orthodox nations has been closely directed by Western Talmudic circles, headed by the Rothschild family” … “Across Europe, the Jews have always infiltrated the minds of the rulers and forced them to create wars and cataclysms, in order to force them into money dependence”