Internet platform for studying Xenophobia, Radicalism and Problems of Intercultural communication.

Xenophobic Rhetoric

Xenophobic Rhetoric Ilian Todorov

On February 11, MP from Ataka party Ilian Todorov, speaking on the television, proposed to provide child benefits to adult mothers only, which is directed against Roma, many of whom are teenage mothers. Todorov stated that some Roma “turned childbirth into business”.

On February 20, Leader of the Ataka party Volen Siderov stated that his party would introduce an initiative to ban news in Turkish language, cancellation of the declaration of apology for the “bulgarisation” of Muslims under the communist regime, as well as recognise the genocide of Bulgarians carried out by the Osman Empire. Siderov threatened that if the initiative fails, Ataka will leave the parliament.

On February 28, MP from Ataka party Magdalena Tasheva stated that Bulgarian lands are being bought by the Canadian billionaire J. Barry, in order to settle Syrian refugees and change the ethno-religious appearance of Bulgaria.

On March 1, Vice President of the Ataka party Pavel Shopov expressed his opinion during discussions around the proposed amendments, “Is everything over in the country that now we have to deal with same-sex marriages? They legalised them in Texas, so now we have to immediately follow their example?”

On December 17, leader of the National Salvation Front of Bulgaria Valery Simeonov, speaking in parliament, said that Roma demand unemployment benefits “without any effort on their part”. “Their children play with pigs and their women have maternal instincts akin to street dogs.”

There have been several extreme anti-migration statements by members of the government, Mayor of Rozovo Feodora Georgeva explained that the reason for migrantophobic actions that took place in her village is that locals are simply “wary of those who are different”.

Former Director of the State Agency for Refugees, Nikolai Chirpanliev, said that it is a “well-known fact that Arabs tend to lie and it is part of their everyday life. Such statements intimidate the population and incite Xenophobia.

On November 25, Patriotic Front party announced that it will no longer support B. Borisov’s government after the Prime Minister refused to dismiss the Deputy Defence Minister – an ethnic Turk Orhan Ismailov.

In May, the Ataka party was actively promoting a video where same-sex marriage and paedophilia was presented as core of “Euro-Atlantic values”.

On June 20, presenters of a TV programme “Hi, Bulgaria” Anna Tsolova and Viktor Nikolayev said that one of the reasons for the recent flooding in Varna was illegal deforestation by Roma.

Head of the National Salvation Front of Bulgaria also owns SKAT TV, a channel engaged in propaganda of often borderline radical national-patriotic ideas. For example, on August 27 and September 3, SKAT broadcasted a programme called “Jehovah’s Witnesses, Satanists taking over Bulgaria.

In January 2019, xenophobic rhetoric was heard at the very top of the Bulgarian government. This time around, Bulgaria's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Krasimir Karakachanov demonized Roma in the strongest possible terms following two incidents of violence committed by persons of Roma origin. Condemning violent actions against a policeman and a soldier, he said that the gypsies create a criminogenic situation in the country.

Hate speech against the Roma community has increased greatly, especially during the pandemic, and no government agency in the country is raising this issue. On the contrary: anti-gypsy rhetoric is used by all political parties - not only far-right nationalists, but also large mainstream parties. This is coupled with targeted propaganda by the political class against civil society organizations and undermining the democratic process among the Roma community.

For example, in March 2020, the Mayor of Sofia, Ms. Fandakova, declared that the gypsy quarters of the city were a breeding ground for COVID-19, although in fact there were no more than 10 cases of the disease. She ordered to close the entrances and exits of these quarters and set up checkpoints there while the general movement around the city was free.

On May 20, 2021, during a plenary debate on equality and Roma integration, Bulgarian MEP Angel Jambazchi stated: “Rights must be accompanied by duties. Obligations to study, work, look for work, not to commit crimes, not to steal, not to kill old people, not to rape elderly old women (…) there is no integration for people who do not want to integrate.” Later, in February 2022, European parliamentarians expressed outrage at his fascist salute during a debate on the rule of law in Strasbourg.

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