Turkey Condemns Mosque Attack in Bulgaria, Warns Against Rising Islamophobia

Turkey has condemned an attack by far-right nationalists on a mosque in Bulgaria, warning against rising Islamophobia in Europe.

"We expect the perpetrators and inciters of this abhorrent attack on freedom of worship... to be quickly apprehended and punished," a foreign ministry statement said late Friday.

It charged that "general apathy against mounting racism, xenophopia, exclusive nationalism and Islamophobia across Europe... unfortunately lays the ground for incidents such as the despicable attack in Sofia."

The Muslim community in Bulgaria includes a sizeable Turkish minority, which was the subject of an assimilation campaign under Communist rule.

A Muslim man and five policemen were hurt in clashes between supporters of Bulgaria's ultra-nationalist Ataka party and worshipers outside the mosque in Sofia Friday, the Bulgarian interior ministry said.

The skirmishes broke out when the far-right demonstrators tried to drown out the sound of the traditional call to prayer, shouted provocative slogans and threw stones at worshippers kneeling on their prayer mats, an Agence France Presse photographer at the scene said.

The ultra-nationalist Ataka party with its sharp anti-Turkish rhetoric entered parliament in 2005 and went on to secure as many as 21 seats in the 240-seat assembly in the subsequent general elections in 2009.

Source: Agence France Presse

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