Support independent journalism in Central & Eastern Europe.
Donate to TOL!

× Learn more
No, thanks Photo: Abbas Atilay
 
back  |  printBookmark and Share

Are Politics Mixing With Religion in Bulgaria?

While authorities argue move should reduce dependence on foreign funding for religions, the opposition sees it as ruling party’s attempt to endear itself with religious groups.

13 March 2019

The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), the country’s main opposition party, has criticized a bill passed last week as a thinly veiled attempt to buy off a prominent religious group in exchange for political favors, Balkan Insight reports

 

Proposed by the ethnic Turkish Movement of Rights and Freedoms, MRF, and supported by  the governing GERB party, the bill forgives a debt in the millions of euros run up by the office of the country’s senior Muslim cleric.

 

The deal is, ‘We back you to overturn the presidential veto and BSP’s criticism, and you cancel the debts,’” Balkan Insight quotes BSP party’s leader, Kornelia Ninova, as saying. Her suggestion was that the MRF, nominally in opposition, would vote with GERB because of the

 

The bill’s backers say it will help reduce the possibility of foreign funding of religious groups, a potential security risk.

 

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov met on Monday with Chief Mufti Mustafa Hadzhi, spiritual leader of Bulgaria’s Muslim minority, and Patriarch Neofit, head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, to discuss the legislation, the Sofia Globe reported. At the meeting, he said that the government’s goal was “to start off with a clean sheet, so that the state pays its religious groups from now on,” Balkan Insight writes.

 

According to Tsvetan Tsvetanov, parliamentary leader of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party, the debt amounts to about 8.2 million leva (4.19 million euros, or $4.74 million) of unpaid social insurance and other taxes, the Sofia Globe reported last week.

 

 

  • Passing through the parliament’s religious issues committee, the bill received only one vote against it. The vote came from a member of the government party’s coalition party, the ultra-nationalist United Patriots, Balkan Insight reports.

 

  • Bulgaria’s Muslim community, the country’s second largest faith group, received 1 million euros a year from Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs until 2017, when the directorate was accused of interfering in Bulgaria’s snap parliamentary elections.

 

  • Last December, a Bulgarian law was passed saying that a religious group that comprises at least 1 percent of the population would receive a subsidy of 10 leva per follower. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the Muslim community are the only ones whose congregations make them eligible for such funding, according to The Sofia Globe.
Compiled by Rose Joy Smith
back  |  printBookmark and Share

TOL PROMOTION

We would like to invite you to meet Kathryn Thier, a recognized expert and instructor of Solutions Journalism from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

 

Join us to learn more about the connections between investigative reporting and Solutions Journalism and discover the impact that bringing the “whole” story has on communities. Kathryn’s keynote speech will be followed by a panel discussion on bringing the solutions perspective into reporting practices with Nikita Poljakov, deputy editor in chief of the business daily Hospodářské noviny. Nikita is also head of the project “Nejsi sám” (You are not alone), which uses the solutions approach to tackle the issue of male suicide. The main program will be followed by an informal wine reception. 

 

The event will take place on Monday, 25 March at 5 p.m. in the Hollar building of the Charles University Faculty of Social Sciences (Smetanovo nábřeží 6, Praha 1). The event will be in English. 

 

Attendance is free upon registration - please, fill in the registration form.

 

Feel free to check out and share the event on Facebook.

 

 

 

MULTIMEDIA PROJECTS

Moldovan diaries

The Moldovan Diaries is a multimedia, interactive examination of the country's ethnic, religious, social and political identities by Paolo Paterlini and Cesare De Giglio.

This innovative approach to story telling gives voice to ordinary people and takes the reader on the virtual trip across Moldovan rural and urban landscapes. 

It is a unique and intimate map of the nation.

RELATED ARTICLES

© Transitions Online 2019. All rights reserved. ISSN 1214-1615
Published by Transitions o.s., Baranova 33, 130 00 Prague 3, Czech Republic.