Anti-Roma protests rock Bulgaria

More than 160 people were arrested in Bulgaria Sept. 27, in a second night of protests against the Balkan country's large Roma minority. The protests were sparked by the hit-and-run killing of a 19-year-old man by an apparent associate of the local self-proclaimed "Gypsy King" Kiril Rashkov in the village of Katunitsa near Plovdiv, but quickly spread to cities and towns throughout the country. (See map.) Protests dwindled the night of the 28th, after Rashkov was arrested. More than 2,000 marched in Sofia at the height of the protests. At least one incident of skinheads attacking a Roma man and his young son was reported, in the town of Blagoevgrad. Residents of Blagoevgrad's Roma neighborhood, hearing of the assault, armed themselves with axes and sticks and attempted to march on the center of the town to confront the protesters, but were blocked by police.

"Gypsy terror: How long will it take, how long we will be quiet!" read a popular banner at demonstrations in Sofia and other cities. A leaflet headlined "Roma Crime—a Threat to the State," was distributed at the parliament building in Sofia by members of Attack, a nationalist party with 16 lawmakers in the 240-seat assembly. Its leader, Volen Siderov, is running for president with the campaign slogan: "I am your weapon, use it." (Sofia Echo, Reuters, Bloomberg, Sept. 29)

See our last posts on Bulgaria, the Balkans and the Roma.

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  1. Hate cars, not Roma
    Like the Crown Heights riots in New York City in 1991, this Bulgarian affair is a case study in divide-and-conquer. Reckless driving is absolutely endemic to the global car culture, and the planet’s reigning petro-oligarchs can only be heartened by the rage being deflected into ethnic hatred.