Bigotry in Bulgaria
Recently there has been a series of violent clashes between Bulgarian protestors and Roma communities. The initial cause of the tension was the death of an ethnic Bulgarian, Angel Petrov, after he was hit by a minibus driven by a Roma man on 23 September. (The driver has been arrested).
Anti-Roma protests first targeted the house of a wealthy local Roma man, Kiril Rashkov, which was set on fire. Rashkov is alleged to have been behind Petrov’s death, following a feud. Over the next few days the demonstrations continued, joined by groups of nationalists and neo-Nazis, resulting in some injuries to Roma, as well as an atmosphere of fear.
The protests spread to more than 20 Bulgarian cities, including Sofia. Roma neighbourhoods had to be barricaded off, to protect them the demonstrators, some of whom shouted ‘gypsies into glue’. But in this article a local ethnic Bulgarian discusses his regret that local anger against Rashkov, had led to violence against the Roma community as a whole. “We are living together with the Roma and we don’t have any problems.”
The nationalist party Ataka, which gained 10% of the vote in the 2009 elections, has been capitalising on the clashes, handing out inflammatory pamphlets: