The Face of Hate in Bulgaria: MEP Angel Dzambazki
“Tell me something about integration. About tolerance. About ‘liberalism’. About ‘humanism’ … And I will tell you how to use a rope.”
This recent Facebook post marks the latest anti-Roma racist provocation by MEP Angel Dzambazki. Earlier in June, he posted a picture of a group of Romani men involved in a clash with ethnic Bulgarians as his Facebook cover photo with the comment: ‘Euthanasia’.
In recent blogs he has referred to Roma as ‘primates’, and stated that Bulgarian society has “conveniently taught them not to work and leaves them unpunished for paedophilia, prostitution, drugs and whatever other evil doings you can imagine.” In comments referring to recent violent incidents he stated:
“The Gypsies are free to kill Bulgarians in domestic disputes. This is part of their lifestyle. That excuses them. This is part of their gypsy uniqueness.”
Dzambazki is no marginal political figure. He is a leading member of the Bulgarian nationalist VMRO party, and as a member of the European Parliament belongs to the European Conservatives and Reformists group (ECR). VMRO is part of the ultra-nationalist Patriotic Front and a coalition partner in the current government led by Boyko Borissov.
No stranger to controversy, Dzambazki willfully courts notoriety with frequent outbursts of hate speech. As reported by Balkan Insight, his latest statements prompted an online petition calling on the European Parliament to penalize him for spreading “aggressive anti-Roma propaganda” in the parliament, in the media and on social networks.”
This comes just over a year after protests by anti-racist MEPs called for sanctions against Dzambazki for his racist hate speech, which they deemed to be in direct violation of democratic principles, and especially dangerous and irresponsible in this very charged political context. Soraya Post, Co-President of the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI) in a letter to the head of the ECR group stated that
“Mr Dzhambazki has in the past few weeks openly called for a civil war against Roma in Bulgaria in an article authored by him as well as engaged in hate speech online against Roma people, Muslims and LGBTI people.”
In 2014, he hit a few headlines when he lashed out at Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst referring to the singer “genetically modified organism,” heralding the destruction of the value system in Europe: “I wonder if the vice of our time is that we tolerate the perversity. I don’t want such a song contest for my children.”
As for the EU Roadmap against homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity resolution, Dzhambazki stated that: "The resolution for the human rights of the third gender is absolutely an unacceptable targeting of humanity against nature. There are men and there are women in the normal world, everything else is a preserve liberty. And this craziness must not be regularized in any manner."
Dzhambazki was also accused of inciting hatred against immigrants in 2013 after calling on Bulgarians in Sofia to “clean the city” of immigrants and take “self-defence actions” by establishing “volunteer patrols and units”.
As reported by Yordan Kutiyski, Dzhambazki has been personally involved in campaigns aimed to secure the release of individuals connected to the Bulgarian neo-Nazi scene - Nikolai Yovev and Dimiter Lazarov. Yovev, a well-known football ultra and political extremist, was arrested in 2012 in connection with bombing of a EuroRoma political office and the murder of a Rom who died as a result of the explosion. VMRO claimed that the accusations against Yovev constituted “repression against nationalists”, and actually nominated him for parliament prior to the 2013 election in an attempt to secure his release, while Dzhambazki attended several protests against Yovev’s detention.
Similar tactics were used to attempt to secure the release of Dimiter Lazarov, a VMRO member with ties to nazi groups such as Blood and Honour and National Resistance, who was arrested in connection with a violent attack on left-wing demonstrators. VMRO nominated the right-wing extremist for office prior to the 2014 parliamentary election, and Dzhambazki personally attended the trial and publically defended Lazarov.
The most recent Dzhambazki controversy over anti-Roma hate speech should prompt some kind of response from the European Parliament. The ‘Patriotic’ coalition partners of the ruling GERB party in Bulgaria are beyond the pale when it comes to hate speech, racism, incitement to violence and links with the neo-Nazi extremists. Dzhambazki embodies all the poison and prejudices stirring in the dark side of our democracies. There should be no place in the European Parliament for racism and xenophobia, and we repeat MEP Soraya Post’s call on the ECR group to take action to send a message to its members that there must be zero tolerance for those who propagate hate and intolerance.