Bulgarian Jewish organisations, in a statement on June 28, condemned the previous day’s assault on the wife and two daughters of Birali Birali, Deputy Chief Mufti of Bulgaria and one of the leaders of the country’s Muslim community.
The assault on the family took place as they were emerging from a supermarket in Sofia. The attack by a group of youths is suspected to have been prompted by the fact that the Muslim family were wearing headscarves.
In a joint statement, the Shalom Organisation of the Jews in Bulgaria – the country’s EJC affiliate – and the Central Israelite Spiritual Council quoted the Bulgarian constitution saying that freedom of conscience, freedom of thought and the choice of religion and of religious or atheistic views are inviolable, and the state assists in maintaining tolerance and respect among believers of different faiths, as well as among believers and unbelievers.
“We are most sincerely sympathetic to the entire Birali Birali family for the stress and physical pain experienced,” the Jewish organisations said, extending their deep sympathy and support.
“At the same time, we believe that law enforcement will do their best to find the perpetrators, and they will bear all responsibility for this criminal act.”
Condemning the incident, the Bulgarian Jewish organisations’ statement issued an appeal for such xenophobia and intolerance not to be allowed, and called on all of society, “especially the politicians and leaders of the country, to pay particular attention to acts of hate speech and the incitement of ethnic and religious intolerance”.