Bulgaria: Thirteen Muslim scholars, imams and teachers on trial for "anti-democratic ideology"

Not sure what laws Bulgaria has on its books, but western governments would be well advised to ensure that laws against  “anti-democratic ideology”  are rigorously enforced.

Bulgaria: Thirteen Muslim scholars, imams and teachers on trial for misunderstanding Islam, al-Qaeda links, preaching against democracy

“Bulgarian Religious Figures”

Outside the trial of radical imams, nationalists shout, “Today (Islamic) fundamentalism. Tomorrow (Islamic) terrorism. Bulgaria for Bulgarians.”— BNI

How did these Islamic religious scholars, imams and teachers miss all the passages in the Qur’an about love for and peaceful coexistence as equals with the Infidels? So many misunderstanders of Islam — it’s on ongoing puzzle! “Bulgarian radical Islam trial hears witnesses amid nationalist demo,” from AFP, October 29 (thanks to JW):

Mustard supporters tilts  came out in force to show solidarity with the headbangers in the dock

PAZARDZHIK, Bulgaria — A trial against 13 Bulgarian Muslim religious leaders for preaching a radical form of Islam heard key witnesses Monday, while nationalists demonstrated at the court in the southern town of Pazardzhik to protest “Muslim pressure” on its work.

Bulgarians have been suffering horribly under Mohammedan occupation.  Bulgarian non-Muslims remember the absolute *horror* of the centuries that they spent as despised, abused, ruthlessly exploited and frequently mass-murdered dhimmis under Turkish Muslim imperial rule. The Turkish Atrocities in Bulgaria: Horrible Scenes at Batak

The 12 men and one woman — imams, mufti Islamic scholars and teachers — have been charged with founding a local branch of the extremist Al Waqf-Al Islami group in the southern regions of Smolyan, Blagoevgrad and Pazardzhik.

The Netherlands-based but Saudi-funded organisation is suspected of links to Al-Qaeda.

The 13 were charged with preaching a radical anti-democratic ideology based on hardline Salafist teachings during prayers at mosques, lectures, sermons and cafe meetings between March 2008 and October 2010 and with seeking to impose a caliphate state.

All defendants have pleaded not guilty and several witnesses have so far refused to confirm their initial written testimony.

Another key witness, who once worked for the Al Waqf-Al Islami foundation also rejected his testimony on Monday. Muafak al-Assad, a Syrian national who once studied in Bulgaria, also said he was pressured by state security agents to refuse an interpreter and not to appear at the trial at all….

About 300 nationalists meanwhile demonstrated at the court with Bulgarian flags and signs reading “Bulgaria is a secular state” to protest what they said was “Muslim pressure” over the court during its previous hearings.

A crowd of long-bearded men and women wearing long black dresses had then gathered outside the courtroom to support their religious leaders but their outfit, which is not traditional for Bulgaria’s Muslim minority, sparked a controversy. They were absent on Monday, however.

“We want to avoid conflicts,” Bulgaria’s deputy chief mufti Birali Birali, who was present at the hearing, said.

Bulgaria, whose population of 7.4 million is 80-percent Christian Orthodox, also has the highest percentage of native Muslims in the European Union, at about 13 percent.

They include Turks, Muslim Roma and Pomaks, like the accused, whoseChristian ancestors were forced to convert to Islam during the country’s Ottoman domination between the 14th and 19th century. The Pomaks are the most devout of the three subgroups, minority experts said.

Most experts also warned that, regardless of its outcome, the trial risks raising tensions between Bulgaria’s Christian majority and the Muslim minority, who have lived together quietly since the fall of communism in 1989.

Yes, the trial will raise tensions. Thirteen Muslim leaders preaching hatred of the Infidels and the need to subjugate them under Islamic rule — that doesn’t raise tensions. Only trying them does.


Bulgaria nationalists rally in support of Muslims’ trial

(Reuters) – Hundreds of nationalists rallied in a southern Bulgarian town on Monday in support of the prosecution of 13 religious leaders accused of spreading radical Islam in a case causing communal strains in the Balkan country.

The trial, just months after a suicide bomber killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian driver at the Black Sea port of Burgas, has tested a delicate ethnic balance between the country’s minority Muslims and its Orthodox Christian majority.

Prosecutors in the southern town of Pazardzhik have charged 12 Bulgarian citizens, most of them Muslim prayer leaders, and one woman for preaching radical Islam between 2008 and 2010. Three of them are also charged with inciting religious hatred.

Protesters, led by far-right parties Attack and VMRO, waved banners reading “Our religion is Bulgaria” and “Tough sentences for fanatics”, and said the march aimed to counter gatherings of Muslims in front of the courthouse in support of the accused.

The suspects, who deny any wrongdoing, face up to five years in prison if convicted.

They are accused of working with an unregistered branch of Al Waqf-Al Islami, an Islamic foundation set up in the Netherlands and funded mainly by “Salafi circles” from Saudi Arabia, the court said, referring to an ultra-conservative brand of Islam.

About 100 Muslims also rallied near the court under heavy police protection in support of the accused, saying the 13 had preached only traditional Islam. Bulgaria’s Mufti Office has also declared its support for the accused.

The trial has the potential to threaten a culture of tolerance in Bulgaria, where Muslims make up about 12 percent of the 7.3 million population, analysts said.

Bulgaria is the only European Union (EU) country where Muslims are not recent immigrants but a centuries-old local community, mostly ethnic Turkish descendants of Ottoman rule that ended in 1878.

“Trials like this could dramatically raise tension in the places where Bulgarian Muslims live,” said Antonina Zhelyazkova, head of the Sofia-based International Center for Minority Studies.

The trial has revived memories of the 1980s when hundreds of Muslims were forced to change their names to Bulgarian ones and over 300,000 left the country as a result of a campaign by late communist dictator Todor Zhivkov to revive mainstream Bulgarian culture.

Nationalist parties are also trying to use the trial to gain popularity before a general election next year, analysts said.

Israel has accused Iran and the Lebanese Islamist group Hezbollah of being behind the Burgas attack. Iran has denied the charge and accused Israel of carrying it out.