Bulgarian radical Islam trial hears witnesses amid nationalist demo

H/T Martin

Google News:

(AFP) – 6 hours ago

PAZARDZHIK, Bulgaria — A trial against 13 Bulgarian Muslim religious leaders for preaching a radical form of Islam heard key witnesses Monday, while nationalists demonstrated at the court in the southern town of Pazardzhik to protest “Muslim pressure” on its work.

The 12 men and one woman — imams, mufti Islamic scholars and teachers — have been charged with founding a local branch of the extremist Al Waqf-Al Islami group in the southern regions of Smolyan, Blagoevgrad and Pazardzhik.

The Netherlands-based but Saudi-funded organisation is suspected of links to Al-Qaeda.

The 13 were charged with preaching a radical anti-democratic ideology based on hardline Salafist teachings during prayers at mosques, lectures, sermons and cafe meetings between March 2008 and October 2010 and with seeking to impose a caliphate state.

All defendants have pleaded not guilty and several witnesses have so far refused to confirm their initial written testimony.

Another key witness, who once worked for the Al Waqf-Al Islami foundation also rejected his testimony on Monday. Muafak al-Assad, a Syrian national who once studied in Bulgaria, also said he was pressured by state security agents to refuse an interpreter and not to appear at the trial at all.

Three protected witnesses called by the prosecution were also due to testify later Monday.

About 300 nationalists meanwhile demonstrated at the court with Bulgarian flags and signs reading “Bulgaria is a secular state” to protest what they said was “Muslim pressure” over the court during its previous hearings.

A crowd of long-bearded men and women wearing long black dresses had then gathered outside the courtroom to support their religious leaders but their outfit, which is not traditional for Bulgaria’s Muslim minority, sparked a controversy. They were absent on Monday, however.

Is that a zebiba on your head or did you miss with the fork again

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Canadian artist and counter-jihad and freedom of speech activist as well as devout Schrödinger's catholic

3 Replies to “Bulgarian radical Islam trial hears witnesses amid nationalist demo”

  1. OT – Ethiopia charges 29 Muslims under anti-terror law

    (AFP) – 1 day ago

    ADDIS ABABA — Twenty-nine Ethiopian Muslims were charged Monday with plotting acts of “terrorism”, the majority arrested after protests accusing the government of interference in religious affairs.

    According to court documents, the group is accused of “intending to advance a political, religious or ideological cause” by force and the “planning, preparation, conspiracy, incitement and attempt of terrorist acts.”

    The 29 accused — including 9 prominent Muslim leaders — were jailed following protests in July staged by Muslims against the government.

    Among the accused was Habiba Mohammed, the wife of the former minister of civil service, charged with smuggling funds to support religious extremism.

    Demonstrations began in January by Muslims who accuse the government of trying to impose the moderate Al Ahbash Sufi branch of Islam, a Lebanese import mostly alien to Ethiopia.

    Protesters also accuse authorities of fixing elections for the leaders of the Supreme Council on Islamic Affairs, the community’s main representative body, after jailing Muslim leaders who would have participated in the vote.

    Two local non-governmental organizations were also charged with “rendering support” to terrorism.

    The courtroom in the Ethiopian capital was filled Monday with armed police officers alongside the 29 accused, who stood before a judge to receive the charges.

    Dozens of family members and friends who could not fit inside the courtroom waited outside and cheered as the charged returned to prison on buses.

    According to official figures, nearly 34 percent of Ethiopia’s 83 million people are Muslim.

    Ethiopia’s constitution calls for a secular government and prohibits government interference in religious affairs.

    This month, Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn insisted the government respects religious freedom, but said some acts of religious extremism had been uncovered and the government must curb such incidents.

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