Wednesday, February 25, 2015

European Court Says Bulgaria Violated Religious Rights of Muslims By Inadequate Response To Mosque Demonstration

The European Court of Human Rights in a Chamber Judgment yesterday held that Bulgarian authorites violated Muslim worshipers' right to practice their religion by the inadequate response to a demonstration in front of a mosque in the center of Sofia in 2011.  In the demonstration, leaders, members and supporters of the Bulgarian political party Ataka clashed with Muslim worshippers who had gathered for Friday prayer. In Karaahmed v. Bulgaria, (ECHR, Feb. 24, 2015), the court said:
the outcome of the police’s response that day was that a large number of demonstrators were able to stand within touching distance of Banya Bashi mosque, to shout insults at praying worshippers, to engage in threating and provocative gestures and actions, and ultimately to gain access to the mosque. They enjoyed a virtually unfettered right to protest at the mosque that day, while the applicant and the other worshippers had their prayers entirely disrupted. It is plain, therefore, the police’s actions were confined simply to limiting the violence which broke out that day and that no proper consideration was given to how to strike the appropriate balance in ensuring respect for the effective exercise of the rights of the demonstrators and the applicant and the other worshippers.
Novinite reports on the decision.