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Bulgaria: Anatomy of Hate

Assassin slogans at every turn, extremism and aggression among the youth: this is also part of the Bulgarian reality. Is the horrific Norwegian carnage possible in Bulgaria?

"Since all this could happen in Oslo, it could happen anywhere" - this is how a local MP answered a journalist's frightened question whether such a carnage is possible in Bulgaria. He said this a day after the tragedy in Norway and his words did not at all calm the fears of the Bulgarians that besides street, organised, economic and any other kind of crime rampant in the country, it is also possible to fall victim to ideological psychopaths who, although in the shadows, are part of the country's roaring pre-election political menagerie.

And if the recent ethnic pogroms in front of the Sofia mosque, the beatings of gay pride marchers in Sofia, or the attack on members of a religious sect(protestants and evangelicals) in Burgas are not yet signs of anything alarming to law enforcement, for many Bulgarians these are just as clear signs as the swastikas, nationalist symbols, and repulsive racist slogans scrawled all over city walls, which even kids already know by heart.

The horrified world realised almost immediately that the Oslo attacker, who massacred dozens of his countrymen in record time, was very fond of photographing himself dressed in various uniforms, mainly military and national, and then posting the pictures on the internet. And in order to document the fantasies of his own persona, before the photo shoots he would prepare himself thoroughly by cosmetics, massages, tanning beds, and in his hands he would hold a rapid-fire rifle with an optical sight or a bomb detonator. Does this sort of narcissism remind us of anything? Even if you haven't scrutinized the strikingly identical photo portraits of the leaders of the Third Reich or the Soviet party elite before World War II, you surely remember the painstakingly retouched faces of the "beloved" communist party and state leaders before 1989, who immortalized themselves photographically not only with the shot trophy of the hunt but also as masters of their personal pistol or the latest rifle from the arms factories.

These images are also over 20 years old in age, but alas, relevant today! In the media, we see today's president posing happily with his super-expensive hunting rifle, a former prime minister riding a rocker motorcycle on his way to a party gathering, a current prime minister and police chiefs crouching before lenses in cowboy hats, and politicians with helmetphones smiling amiably at us from the cockpit of a fighter jet. So much for their savvy, you say to yourself, waving your hand and struggling somehow to swallow it! But how do you take the images of right arms stretched out for the Nazi salute at party rallies, the ominous Nazi tattoos on activists' necks and muscles, the broken-cross streamers in stadiums and other public places? Or the pictures all over the internet of stormtroopers in brown uniforms, with leather straps and collars, standing neatly in front of their nationalist "stands", designed mainly for the heads and ribs of Roma, some Muslims or just different people?

Democracy, full freedom, unlimited pluralism, youthful naivety, extremism? Or are we dealing with an aggressive ideology that even in Europe, not to mention the liberal Norwegians, are still unable or unwilling to recognize?


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