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News 18 Jul 17

Bulgarian MEP Accused of Hate Speech Against Roma

An online petition has called for the European Parliament to sanction Bulgarian MEP Angel Dzhambazki for stirring up anti-Roma hatred. 

Mariya Cheresheva
BIRN
Sofia
Angel Dzhambazki. Photo: djambazki.org

An online petition is calling on the European Parliament to penalise Bulgarian MEP Angel Dzhambazki for allegedly spreading “aggressive anti-Roma propaganda” in the parliament, in the media and on social networks.

The organisers of the petition, hosted on the Avaaz platform, aim to collect 1,000 signatures, which would then be sent to the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani.

The MEP stirred fresh controversy recently with comments on cases in which citizens of Bulgaria suffered injuries or were killed following conflicts with citizens of Roma origin.

Dhambazki's comment on the death of Alexander Alexiev. Photo: Snapshot from his Facebook profile

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Dhambazki commented on the death of an 18-year-old,  Alexander Alexiev, who had been in a coma since July 8 after being struck by a 32-year-old man of Roma origin.

“Tell me something about integration. About tolerance. About ‘liberalism’. About ‘humanism’. … And I will tell you how to use a rope,” he wrote.

On June 30, he posted a picture of a group of Roma men who took part in a mass fight against Bulgarians as his cover photo, and wrote a comment below reading: “Euthanasia”.

The comment reading: “Euthanasia”. Photo: Snapshot from the Facebook profile of Angel Dzhambazki.

 “If Dzhambazki’s behaviour remains unsanctioned, this will undermine the effectiveness of the European Parliament and the trust of the European citizens in it,” the petition says, warning that extreme nationalists throughout Europe will then feel tolerated by the EU.

The MEP is a member of the Bulgarian nationalist VMRO party, which is part of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in Strasbourg and part of the nationalist Patriotic Front, a coalition partner in Boyko Borissov’s current government in Bulgaria.

BIRN asked the MEP to comment on the accusations, but received no answer by the time of publication. BIRN also approached the office of the EP President Antonio Tajani which refrained from comment.

However, the MEP told NOVA TV on Monday that Bulgaria had a huge problem with its Roma community and, if it pretended the problem did not exist, cases of violence would become more and more frequent.

“Those crimes have to be punished, strictly and fairly,” the MEP said, noting also that he supported the launch of a public discussion on the reintroduction of the death penalty.

Deyan Kolev, President of Bulgaria’s largest Roma organization, “Amalipe”, told BIRN that his language should not be tolerated.

“Once they have been elected, MEPs must be representatives of all citizens, not only of their voters,” he said, calling Dzhambazki’s statements “totally unacceptable”.

He added that whether the EU institutions reacted to them would show how seriously they took common moral values.

The European Parliament has sanctioned discriminatory remarks made by MEPs during plenary sessions before.

In March, the European Parliament suspended Polish MEP Janusz Korwin-Mikke for 10 days after he said women should be paid less than men because they are “smaller, weaker and less intelligent”.

He also lost his daily subsistence allowance for 30 days, and the right to represent the institution for one year.

Earlier, in January, Germany’s EU Commissioner Gunther Oettinger apologized to the European Parliament for calling the Chinese “slitty-eyed” and for making remarks about women and gay marriage deemed sexist and homophobic.

In March 2016, a Greek MEP from the extreme-right Golden Dawn party, Eleftherios Synadinos, was expelled from the chamber after calling Turkish people “dirty and polluted” and comparing them to “wild dogs”.

 

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