Violent clashes erupted between sympathizers of the nationalist Ataka (The Attack) party and local Muslims at the Bania Basha mosque in the center of Bulgaria's capital, Sofia, during today's nationalist demonstrations against the mosque's loudspeakers.
Right from the start of the preparations, one person from the nationalist camp pulled out a Turkish fez and cut it up in front of some 150 Ataka sympathizers and 200 praying Muslims. Tensions between the two groups escalated after Ataka sympathizers tried to put a loudspeaker over the mosque's toilet.
During the clashes, many people were injured, including a Muslim man with a fractured skull. According to Volen Siderov, the leader of Ataka, one of the party's MPs – Denitza Gedjeva – was also injured after a stone hit her jaw and she was rushed to the city's main hospital, Pirogov. Three more of the injured were accepted into the hospital's emergency room, but all, including Gedjeva, were later released for home treatment.
Medical teams arrived at the scene to examine and treat the injured. Three Ataka sympathizers were arrested.
Representatives of Ataka were throwing stones, fruit, eggs, sheets of metal and pieces of wood at the Muslims, who responded by applauding their attackers. There are many reactions on Twitter [bg, en]:
They are beating Jehovah's Witnesses, beating Muslims. I want to ask: who's next?
Muslim lying on the ground with a broken head after clashes in Sofia http://twitpic.com/502vuo
Open letter from the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee to all media outlets in Bulgaria about clashes between right-wing activists and Muslims http://bit.ly/iGL4B2
Will they be arrested for hate speech and racism attacks?
Right-wing activists are burning prayer mats in front of the mosque in Sofia http://twitpic.com/502wu4
Some Facebook reactions in Supporting Immigrants Rights in Bulgaria group:
Sadly, he [Siderov] is taking more and more dangerous actions, and he's turning from a poser into an actor in this situation, while the political scene is becoming a place of religious intolerance.
We have to organize an event in defense of the Bulgarian Muslims! Today or tomorrow, we have to react to this madness!
This is a disgrace! It's amazing how far these pathetic bigots can go. They're putting the whole nation to shame in the worst possible way.
Sickderov [a nickname for Siderov] is scum, a provocateur who abuses his support and his power to divert people's attention.
Seriously, who does that guy think he's representing? Obviously it's not just his fans, who are becoming fewer and fewer.