Turkish PM Condemns Racist Assault on Muslims in Bulgaria

JNN 28 May 2011 : Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized harshly the Bulgarian nationalist party Ataka’s attack on Muslims during their prayer in Sofia recently.

“I address my words to our brothers and relatives in Bulgaria. I condemn decisively the assault and the burning of prayer mugs done in Sofia during the traditional Friday prayer,” Erdogan declared during a pre-election gathering in Bursa, a city populated with many ethnic Turks from Bulgaria, the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency reported.

“Violence such as this is a sign of genetically inherited intolerance towards the different,” he stated.

However, Erdogan expressed his gratitude for the Bulgarian officials’ reactions after the accident.

“The statements made by the Bulgarian authorities calmed us down a little bit for which I thank them. I would once again point out that the European states should cooperate in taking measures against such escalations of tension,” the Turkish PM said.

On Friday far-right extremists from the Ataka (Attack) party assaulted praying Muslims. The outburst occurred while the nationalists led by their leader Volen Siderov staged a rally near the Banya Bashi mosque in Sofia protesting against the use of loudspeakers by the mosque. Several people ended up injured and several Ataka supporters were apprehended by the police.

Later on Friday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry came out with a press release, pointing out nearly 700 000 ethnic Turks live in Bulgaria and appeals to Bulgarian authorities to swiftly punish those responsible for the attack.

Ankara also declared the attack is a violation of one of the basic human rights.

On Monday, Sofia’s Chief Prosecutor hinted that if enough evidence is collected for provoking ethnic and religious hate, the Prosecutor’s Office can press charges and even ban the far-right party.

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