Bulgarian police and prosecutors yesterday searched a village prayer house and the homes of two Muslim brothers suspected of spreading "radical Islam," in the second investigation of its kind this year.
Ali and Yuzeir Yuzeirov, who run the prayer house in Slavianovo, some 250 kilometers (155 miles) northeast of Sofia, are also being investigated for setting up a political party allegedly based on religious grounds, which is banned by Bulgaria's constitution, regional prosecutor Stefan Hristov said.
"We have suspicions about the spreading of radical Islam and expect to find certain books during today's search," Hristov told Reuters. "Experts will say whether these books contain radical ideas or not." He said the prayer house, which was also fitted with computers and used for social gatherings, was visited mainly by young people. No arrests or charges have so far been made.
Ali Yuzeirov denied any wrongdoing and told Reuters the Muslim democratic party he set up last week was based on the same principles as Christian democratic parties in Europe.
New Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, whose center-right GERB party won July elections, has ordered the national security agency to investigate Yuzeirov's party.
Muslims make up about 12 percent of the Balkan state's 7.6 million population, with most of the rest belonging to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Religious leaders deny the existence of radical Islam and say that cases such as Slavianovo are threatening the culture of tolerance in mixed communities.
"The problem is that such accusations turn against the whole Muslim community," said Hussein Hafazov, aide to Bulgaria's top Muslim cleric. "This is a dangerous tendency." In March, security services, acting on the complaint of a rightist politician, launched a probe into a local mayor and an Islamic studies teacher on suspicion of receiving Saudi funds to spread radical Islam. No charges have been filed but the case filled media chat rooms with anti-Muslim messages such as "Bulgaria for the Bulgarians."
Source: Kathimerini (English)
In addition, authorities demolished a monument for the "Unknown Turkish Soldier". More on the controversy:
The brothers Ali and Yuzeir Yuzeirovi founded over the weekend a new Muslim party “Muslim Democratic Union,” which proved to be a very controversial move. Ali Yuzeirov was elected party chair. The new party was founded in Slavyanovo, an area largely populated by ethnic Turks, but is yet to be registered.
Yuzeir Yuzeirov is a native from the northern village, but has international business for the trade of chicken meat and spends most of his time in Belgium. He says the party will be financed by funds from businesses of its members.
In addition to the Muslim party, Yuzeir Yuzeirov has been involved in more controversy. He is the founder of the "Club for Friendship and Brotherhood" in Slavyanovo, and founder and leader of the "Bulgarian Red Crescent," an organization the Bulgarian Red Cross says is illegal, according to the Geneva Convention.
The Red Cross says the existence of the Crescent in Bulgaria is a precedent because a country can only have either a Red Cross or a Red Crescent, never both.
The Red Crescent headquarters are in Slavyanovo as well. The building housing it and the Club has a cross and a crescent painted on its walls.
Another controversy involves the monument of the "Unknown Turkish Soldier," also located in Slavyanovo and financed by Yuzeirov.
Source: Novinite (English)