Anti-Semitism Surfaces in Traditionally Tolerant Bulgaria

August 20, 2013—New York—AJC is concerned about the emergence of anti-Semitism on the Bulgarian political scene.

As pro- and anti-government rallies have escalated, Bulgarian rap singer Misho Shamara, popularly known as Big Sha, has emerged as a leader of pro-government demonstrations.

In an interview on the Bulgarian station TV7, Shamara called Simeon Dyankov, the finance minister in the previous government, “the most incapable Jewish vermin.” Neither the interviewer at the time, nor the station afterwards, had anything to say about the outrageous slur.

AJC Executive Director David Harris commented, “We are saddened and shocked that Bulgaria, a country widely known for its spirit of tolerance and mutual respect, would allow an incident like this to pass without any repudiation by the television station or public officials, though, to their credit, other civic leaders immediately condemned the incident.

“Moreover, it comes at a time when elements of the Ataka party, which is not formally part of the government coalition but offers its support to ensure a parliamentary majority, have also expressed xenophobic and anti-Semitic sentiments. Ataka, created in 2005, is widely viewed as an ultranationalist party that advocates for a very narrow definition of Bulgarian identity. In the most recent Bulgarian election in May, it was the fourth highest vote-getter in the country.”