There were tensions on the night of November 25 as a small group of ultra-nationalists attempted to disrupt a protest in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, against violence against women.
According to eyewitness accounts, the group arrived at the well-attended demonstration carrying a Bulgarian flag and a banner saying that the campaign against violence against women should not be equated with “women’s rights”. In Bulgaria, the term “gender” has become associated with homophobic feelings.
The group allegedly tried to take the microphone of the person speaking at the rally in front of the Sofia Court of Justice, causing bruises on his arm.
After a few minutes, the police arrived and escorted the group, where they stayed, shouting at the protest participants. Cried demands for the arrest of the extremist group have gone unheeded.
Later, a video of the group was posted on the Facebook page of one of them, Alexander Alexandrov. In a rambling on-camera account of the video, lasting over 10 minutes, the group claimed to have been the target of assault and mocked the protesters for calling them ‘fascists’,’ Nazis ”and“ murderers ”.
Messages published in recent years on the Alexandrov page contain homophobic messages, support for the Lukov march – an annual neo-fascist event praising a pro-Nazi general – rejection of the euro and boasts of Alexandrov participating in events organized by the VMRO, an ultranationalist political party.
Participants in the demonstration against violence against women – organized with the slogan “not one more” – complained about the inaction of Bulgarian institutions and politicians on the issue.
The protest, which was held not only in Sofia but also in other major cities of Bulgaria, was accompanied by an open letter calling on the newly elected MPs and the Bulgarian President to take urgent action to combat violence in towards women.
Suddenly, just before the start of the demonstration, it emerged that a 21-year-old woman had been murdered and her body had been left in an abandoned building in Sofia. Media claimed the suspect was her 28-year-old partner.
The Bulgarian Fund for Women said that since the start of 2021 there have been at least 17 murders or attempted murders of women.
An Alpha Research poll found that 16% of Bulgarians thought domestic violence was a problem to be solved within the family, 4% thought it was okay for a man to hit a woman if she “provoked” him. , while 15 percent thought women were exaggerating when they complained of sexual harassment.
The protest was accompanied by an open letter to newly elected MPs and the president to take urgent action to tackle violence against women.
The Bulgarian Alliance for the Protection against Gender-Based Violence said that in the months since Bulgaria declared a state of emergency in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, calls to the national hotline for victims of domestic violence had increased by 150%.
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