When we talk about the Russian Hybrid War it is very naive and with terrible consequences to believe that these are elementary unilateral acts or just spreading false information. Russia is playing a multi-layered game in Europe, with the strongest and most chess piece being Bulgaria.
Islam was one of the victims of the Russian propaganda machine in Bulgaria. Through Islam and Immigrants a deep line was drawn in Bulgarian society. Which contributed to the consolidation of the Myth of Bulgarian Slavery to Turkey and the Liberation of Bulgaria from Russia. A cultural mythology valid for the whole of Eastern Europe, which is in Russia's sphere of influence and interest. The case in Pazardzhik served as a trigger for a series of events that shaped cultural trends in the following years. Patriotic and nationalist movements stepped on the confrontation with Islam and the Fear(and terror) of incoming crowds of immigrants (which de facto sabotaged the Europe project and Angela Merkel's policy).
In 2012, a farce and a terrible religious crime was committed in Pazardzhik against the rapidly growing Islamic minority population. But the problem has to be traced back to the time of Communism, because after all this is a kind of continuation of another crime. The Rhodopes are mountainous areas around Pazardzhik, densely populated with Muslim populations for centuries. The Communist regime in the early 1980s decided that it could solve the ethnic problems by radically changing the Turkish names of the population to Bulgarian, thus eradicating Islam, following the example of the earlier eradication of Christianity. And the other important thing is that the basis of Russian propaganda in Bulgaria rests on hatred and resentment against the concocted Turkish Slavery and Islamization in Bulgaria.
In 2012, a trial began in Pazardzhik against 13 imams accused of preaching anti-democratic ideology. A few days ago they were convicted at first instance - one of them received an effective sentence, two received suspended sentences, and ten were fined.
Dr Antonina Zhelyazkova, Director of the International Centre for Minority and Cultural Relations, has seen the evidence and expert reports in the case. According to her, instead of dealing with the specific charges, the court sessions in Pazardzhik turned into a farce because of the polemics on purely theological issues related to the Islamic religion. "I believe that none of the accusations were proved in court. For example, the fact that some of the imams completed their higher spiritual education in Saudi Arabia can in no way incriminate their activities as 'agents of radical Islam'. Even if they have adopted the Salafi beliefs, this does not make the defendants criminals. In my opinion, the trial in Pazardzhik was a set-up to justify the SANS seizure of computers and literature from mosques and to show Europe: you see, Bulgaria is fighting against the threats of fundamentalists," the expert says.
"Muslims associate the prosecution with the darkest periods of the so-called Revival Process. They are offended that their most educated imams were unjustly accused," says Dr. Zhelyazkova. She points out that there are no conditions in the country for the acquisition of quality spiritual education by young people who have decided to devote themselves to the Islamic faith. "The Higher Islamic Institute is housed in a 'hole' on the outskirts of Sofia, and the authorities refuse to allocate land for the construction of a modern higher school for Islamic clerics. Moreover, the diplomas of the graduates of the institute are not recognised by any Bulgarian university. In order to pursue a master's or doctorate in theology, philosophy or pedagogy, graduates of the Higher Islamic Institute must necessarily seek opportunities to study abroad," Dr. Zhelyazkova points out.
She stresses that the Bulgarian state allocates a meagre 300,000 leva a year to the Islamic religion, while the minimum needs for training and maintenance of mosques alone are at least 15 million leva. "The money that the SANS found in the cars of the imams is actually the donations of worshippers for the mosques, which Muslims are forced to collect in the most primitive way to provide funds to the General Muftiate for the salaries of the khojis," explains Dr. Zhelyazkova.
She assumes that religious institutions in countries with fundamentalist Islam are probably looking for channels of influence among Bulgarian Muslims. "But aren't we cutting the branch we are sitting on ourselves, since we have created the conditions for such attempts to be made? By the way, there have also been efforts to plant "pure" Islam among the Pomaks before. They practise a very different Mohammedan faith from the Arab countries, which has links with Christianity and even pagan beliefs. But these attempts have never succeeded," Dr. Zhelyazkova points out.
She argues that the poorest Roma neighbourhoods are the only places where extreme Islamist ideas have the conditions to spread in Bulgaria, because the highly marginalised population and the complete absence of the state in the ghettos creates the conditions for radicalisation under the influence of preachers. According to her, it is no coincidence that the only acceptable verdict from the Pazardzhik trial - the effective conviction of the imam of Roma origin Ahmed Ahmed - is linked to his previous suspended sentence for preaching radical and anti-democratic ideas in Roma neighbourhoods.
"He really behaves inadequately compared to the Pomak imams," says Dr. Zhelyazkova, who personally knows the convicts and has attended their sermons. Her observations of the activities of Islamic and especially Protestant foundations in Roma ghettos, however, are overwhelmingly positive. "In the Roma quarter of Pazardzhik I judged at first sight that the veiled local women were victims of discrimination related to Islam. I was astonished when we found through surveys that these women were actually happy and proud of their new status quo of sharing Islamic canons of behavior and dress. They told me that thanks to their adherence to these canons, men do not steal or drink. And women no longer feel like 'dirty gypsies'," the expert said, referring to her field observations.
MEP Andrei Kovachev refrained from commenting on the case against the 13 imams. "Democracy must be protected! Religion must be completely separated from the state, and there can be no question of the parallel existence of any religious courts, for example. I hope that our services check every report of pressure on girls and women to wear clothing prescribed by religious norms. Preaching hatred and intolerance of the rights of 'others' is sub-judice!".
According to Andrei Kovachev, the call to "Protect Muslims!" is empty of content because all religions and the people who practise them are equal before the law. Regarding the funding of the country's registered religions, he points out that Germany has interesting experience in this respect. In the Federal Republic of Germany, registered religions are financed through the church tax, thus removing the need for external funding of religious organisations.
The Prosecutor General at the time, Sotir Tsatsarov, demanded restrictions on wearing Hijab in public!
Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov said that the law on religions needs a serious overhaul in view of the new realities, as the right balance must be found between religious freedom and the protection of society. Tsatsarov made the comments at a press conference in Pazardzhik before the start of a working meeting with the District and Regional Prosecutor's Office. Responding to a question on whether the wearing of burqas should be restricted, the Prosecutor General expressed the opinion that "such a restriction should exist for public places and especially for educational institutions".
In 2016, the Municipality of Pazardzhik passed an extremely Anti-European and Discrimination Law banning women from wearing the Hijab in public.
School is not a place for religious manifestations, Education Minister Meglena Kuneva said regarding the ban on wearing burqas in educational institutions.
The regulation on the appearance of pupils does not provide for the wearing of religious symbols in school. This is what Education Minister Meglena Kuneva said regarding the ban on wearing burqas in educational institutions. In her words, education in our country is secular and all Bulgarian citizens, regardless of their religious preferences, must respect the law. There is no explicit ban on the wearing of crosses or burqas in a decree in the 2009 National Education Act. According to the decree, each school could regulate this in its regulations.
Education Minister Meglena Kuneva was also Minister for European Affairs in two successive governments - of Simeon Saxe-Coburggotski and Sergey Stanishev (2002-2006) and European Commissioner for Consumer Protection in Jose Manuel Barroso's first Commission (2007-2010). Initially close to the National Movement "Simeon II" (NMSV) party, in 2012 she headed the newly created party Movement "Bulgaria of Citizens" (MBC), which entered the 43rd National Assembly in the elections of 5 October 2014 as part of the Reformist Bloc.
Double Standards- Religion, Education and Culture Completely on the Model of Russia
28.07.2022 The Synod textbooks in Orthodoxy for grades 8, 9 and 11 have been approved by official orders of the Minister of Education and Science
On July 25, 2022, at the Ministry of Education and Science took place the presentation of the official orders approving the synodal textbooks on "Religion - Christianity - Orthodoxy" for 8th, 9th and 11th grade. The orders of the Minister of Education and Science Acad. Nikolai Denkov were signed on July 19, 2022, thus including the next textbooks of our Holy Church in the Ministry of Education's list of cognitive books, textbooks and teaching aids that can be distributed and used in the school education system.
On the photo is Metropolitan Nikolay of Plovdiv, who has been a guest of honour in Pazardzhik since August 2022. In schools not only there is no problem for Orthodox religion but on the contrary, it enters with full force similar to what is happening in Russia.
In 2021, the new Minister of Culture, who is from Pazardzhik, meets the Russian Ambassador Mitrofanova. The meeting was more than warm and fruitful. In Pazardzhik a series of projects were started at the Russian Ambassador's behest, but the important thing in this case was her attitude to the importance of the Orthodox Religion and Religious Exchange. Which applies in full force to Pazardzhik.
The photo is from May, 2022, the Feast of Pazardzhik. Religious Orthodox processions and celebrations are in the city center. A single religion dominates the celebration(as well as a single ethnicity and ethnic culture), even though Pazardzhik and the region are extremely diverse, with almost half the population Muslim. As well as with various Christian denominations. As well as a large Asian community, which has several shops and restaurants in town.
In order to understand the problem with Islam and Russian propaganda, it should definitely be seen in the context of the so popular in the last 20 years in Bulgaria - National Security:
A very interesting and open interview in which one of the "greatest experts on international affairs" (according to the Bulgarian media) says that he would love to see full integration between China and Russia. Because that way they will defend Traditional Values, and in particular the Survival of Bulgaria!
Professor Chukov, national security expert, national security advisor. In 1998 he became an associate professor, in 2005 - a doctor of economic sciences with a dissertation on "Islamic fundamentalism as a threat to national security". He has taught at a number of Bulgarian universities. Varna Free University, St. Sofia University, Sofia University, New Bulgarian University, Ruse University "Angel Kanchev" and others. From 1995 to 1998 he was the editor-in-chief of the journal International Relations. In 1999 he founded the non-governmental organization "Bulgarian Center for Middle Eastern Studies", and in 2002 - "Center for Regional and Confessional Studies". Since 2005 he has been the Scientific Secretary of the Specialized Scientific Council on International Relations of the SAC, and since 2006 - a member of the Commission on Social Sciences of the SAC. He is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of International Relations. "He is also a member of the Society of International Relations and the Committee on Public Affairs. In 2008 he founded the information and analytical website on the problems of the Middle East Orient.bg
The interview itself is a unique illustration of Bulgarian reality. It unfolds at Sofia University, in the new library of the Chinese Cultural Center, which is part of the largest, oldest and most prestigious university in Bulgaria. In which there is a Confucius College-Institute, jointly with China and managed by China. About us (confuciusinstitute.bg)