SOFIA – In an effort to protect the religious minority, Bulgaria’s police forces have stepped up security in streets nearby Sofia’s Banya Bashi mosque, after a young Muslim was brutally attacked near the landmark mosque.
The decision came after anonymous men attacked a 28-year-old man of Turkish origin, beating him up in Sofia on Saturday.
The victim, named as Metin “Georgi Dimitrov”, remained in hospital on November 10 in a coma with severe head injuries.
Later on, it was found that the attackers were moved by anti-refugee sentiments, targeting a refugee center in the same area.
“It was ascertained that the group wanted to intrude a boarding-house in the central part of Sofia, which was sheltering refugees, but failed in doing,” an announcement published by the Grand Mufti was quoted by Focus News Agency on Monday, November 11.
“So and then decided to unleash their anger on the first person they meet.”
Meanwhile, Bulgaria’s grand Mufti has urged Muslim citizens to be cautious and avoid provocations.
Later on Monday, police announced that two men, aged 28 and 29, have been arrested in connection with the assault.
Media reports said that about five to six men had been involved in the attack. According to the Interior Ministry, three further suspects are being sought.
Being a regular mosque visitor, Metin was also targeted in a mosque attack in 2011, during the morning prayer.
Recently, Muslims have been frequently targeted in Bulgaria for their faith.
On Saturday, hundreds of Bulgarians gathered to protest a proposal to return the town of Karlovo’s old mosque to the Chief Mufti to reopen as an active religious place for Muslim worshippers.
Making up some 15 percent of Bulgaria’s 7.3 million people, the Muslim community population is the highest proportion in any European Union member state.
The sentiments coped with increasing numbers of refugees, many from Syria, coming to Bulgaria.
Therefore, the area near the mosque has become a gathering place for migrants from the Middle East and North Africa.