World Bulletin / News Desk
Thirteen Muslim religious figures went on trial in Bulgaria on charges of preaching a "radical form" of Islam last week.
The 12 men and one woman -- imams, mufti Islamic scholars and teachers -- are charged with founding a local branch of the Al Waqf-Al Islami group in the southern regions of Smolyan, Blagoevgrad and Pazardzhik. It is the Netherlands-based but Saudi-funded organisation.
Prosecutors say the 13 Bulgarians preached a ideology based on Salafist teachings during prayers at mosques, lectures, sermons and cafe meetings between March 2008 and October 2010.
The charges against them specifically focus on their suspected “dissemination of anti-democratic ideology by propagating the preachings of the Salafite branch of Islam that seeks to impose a caliphate state.” All defendants pleaded not guilty in court.
The verdict is expected a month later.
The case has sparked protests from Bulgaria's Supreme Muslim Council, the country's top Muslim religious body, that warned against increasing “obstacles to religious tolerance in Bulgaria, created by growing Islamophobia around the world.”
A number of Muslim minority researchers and human rights activists also worry the trial risks flaming tensions between Bulgaria's religious and ethnic groups.
Bulgaria has the highest native Muslim population in the European Union -- about 13%.
Krasimir Kanev, chairman of the Bulgarian branch of the Helsinki Committee human rights group, rejected the case as "absurd".
"There is no proof whatsoever that they have preached an anti-democratic ideology or appealed for violence," Kanev said, referring to the 124-page indictment.
Bulgarian Muslims staged several mass protest rallies in front of the Court building.
They say the charges are groundless and they fear a new "Revival Process," a remake of the one from the 80s of the last century when the Communist regime forced them to change their Muslim names with Christian ones, is looming in Bulgaria.
The Bulgarian Chief Mufti's Office has condemned the trial, saying the accusations were exaggerated and manipulative.
Liverpool and Everton fans team up with England's oldest mosque to help city food banks
We met a father who almost danced to the death of his daughter. Because his daughter died as a Muslim.
In his book ' Fasting during long days', Musa Carullah discusses about the topic of fasting in some geographies which are confusing to some people. By Yusuf Tuncbilek.
Muslims civil rights leader Nihad Awad urges Trump to ensure rights of minorities regardless of ethnic, religious background
The story of how the Qur'an was kept and taught.
Learn about 10 amazing things you may not have known about the Ka’bah.
The Haji Ali Dargah trust has barred women from the landmark mausoleum off the coast of Mumbai since 2011, insisting the presence of women near the tomb of a revered saint is a "grievous sin" in Islam.
Suhaib Webb is an American Muslim imam who is currently the imam of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center
Largest Muslim body warns against radicalism, addresses tensions mounting before 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election
Imam of capital's Grand Mosque says 'tiny' community gets little financial support
Smithsonian exhibition includes 47 handwritten Qurans from Turkey
Ishaq intended to travel from France to Makkah on foot.
The story of Sheikh Yusuf, who went to Arabia at a tender young age never to return to his homeland, turning these far lands into his 'own Macassar', has a lot of deep wisdom
Whilst pilgrimage in these times are comfortable, pilgrims in the Ottoman period was nothing less than a three month journey with much sacrifice and one of seven traditional routes used in the journey
Phadungsat Mosque in southern tourist area of Phuket built with Saudi Arabian donation of $35,000
Salahudin Ayyubi was a fighter who was freed in Jerusalem of the crusaders, he was a living example of the tolerant, progressive, and inclusive faith which was so dear to his heart. By showing restraint and peaceful treatment, Salahuddin was upholding the central tenets of Islam such as freedom of religion and protection of non-Muslims.