“Attack” Publicly Proclaims Racism Emil COHEN Around the presidential election and afterwards, much was written about Volen Siderov, “Attack”, and their voters. And with good reason: it was predicted - and the results confirmed it - that the party and its leader would actually be the big winners, doubling the number of their voters. This increase refuted all of the “prophecies” that after the “road incident” on the Trakia motorway and the failure of the demonstration in front of the American Embassy on 27 April, “Attack” was a “dead dog.” The stripping of Volen Siderov’s parliamentary immunity, the perjury trial, the allegation of one member’s pedophilia, and the combinations of husband/leader, wife/editor of the party publication, and son/deputy leader, appeared sufficient to kill any trust in the party. That’s what would have happened to any other group. So, what united the 600,000 Attack voters? The propaganda skills of Volen Siderov undoubtedly played a part. Nor could the large contribution of the SKAT television network be denied. One could also hardly discount the theory that the clumsy official Anti-”Attack” campaign did the party more good than harm. Still, the majority of voters support the message, but not so much the personality. That is even true for Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha and Boyko Borissov: they are nothing more than the personification of the idea of “a savior/father figure,” capable of overcoming evil with just “a wave of the hand.” Our task therefore has two parts: we must first look at Siderov’s ideas, and afterwards figure out not only who was “hooked” by them, but also who the ones who won’t “bite” are. First, it is indisputable that over the past few years, “Attack” is the only party to have a distinct ideological face. This is a very important fact: the ideas of all of the other parties (except for the MRF), even those of the most clearly oriented ones, the DSB [Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria], are somehow vague, drawn from the storehouse of conventional liberal wisdom, and garnished with one or another - depending on the particular case - “leftist” “rightist,” “centrist” or “liberal” phraseology. (This does not apply to the MRF. Until the pain of the “rebirthing process” [vazroditelen protses], which is the party’s true beginning, subsides with the passing of the generations, it will not be of any particular importance whether Ahmed Dogan’s ideas are leftist or rightist, liberal or conservative; the MRF’s electorate cast their votes for something else, not for combinations of ideas.) Confronted with such a phenomenon, already unfamiliar in Bulgaria - the presence of a distinct ideology most analysts puzzled over how to characterize it. Rather than identifying it as an ultranationalist party with Fascist deviations, they began to describe it using the vague term “populism”, understood to mean: catering to the desires of the “broader masses” and offering quick solutions for all kinds of problems, faced by all social groups. 10 OBEKTIV
But really, which of Bulgaria’s parties is not populist? Can we name even one? And doesn’t that obliterate “Attack’s” most significant characteristic?! Second, the theory of the “normal tumor” has been widely touted. The idea is that we are becoming a “normal country,” and as such, subject to these tumors; there are nationalist parties all over Europe. Obektiv magazine has already written about the difference between the nationalism of Le Pen and that of Siderov,1 so to anyone familiar with those analyses is clear that if Jean-Marie Le Pen is a “tumor,” a term has yet to be coined for Volen Siderov. Third, the sociologists have realized that the “Attack” voter is not a brainwashed zombie, is not an extreme pauper, and is not at the lowest depths of society. So what then? How should we think of him/her? It turns out that s/he is the “thwarted” one, the person who, due to some unknown, most likely inborn, psychological characteristics, feels “wronged.” In other words, an envious person. S/He has above-average material status, but envies those who are more successful. It appears2 that the sources of this envy vary: from the loss of position held before 1989, to all sorts of entirely local factors. Thus, this “swindled” person casts his/her “protest vote.” But as we know, there have always been and always will be protest votes, so nothing terrible has happened. There are two similarities between all these interpretations. The first one is that their originators, whether consciously or not, got caught up in the fact that 600,000 people could not be ignored; they represent a powerful voting potential, which might well be necessary to the parties they sympathize with. And for this reason, the warnings immediately followed: don’t offend them, they are not Fascists, but simply protesting against the “wrongs” of transition. Thus, their essential characteristic is either not mentioned, or is obscured. Thus, we arrive at the second similarity: most commentators underestimated the simple fact that the least common denominator of all of those who voted for “Attack” and Volen Siderov in 2005 and 2006, is that they were either in complete solidarity with the xenophobic and racist rhetoric, or they failed to notice it. They either share it, or they think that such speech is simply part of the natural order of things. Incidentally, the reasoning that a bit of xenophobia does no harm, and could even attract voters, is the basis of all the exhortations to the effect of “don’t offend them.” In other words, being “almost racist” is in the natural order of things! Two sad conclusions follow from all of the above. First, both the politicians and a large part of the analysts are afraid to admit openly that there are strong
1 For example, see “How Should We Think of ‘Attack’?” by Krassimir Kanev, in Issue 122 of this magazine. 2 See articles by Evgeniya Ivanova, “The ‘Attack’ Voter: An Attempt at a Portrait”; and Dimitriy Varzanovtsev, “The Ressentiment of ‘Attack’,” in Kultura newspaper, 16 November 2006.
DJAVED NOURI Who Set Himself On Fire
Georgi TOSHEV, attorney
javed Nouri is a citizen of Afghanistan, whose application procedure for protection under the special rules of the Asylum and Refugees Act has come to an end. Nouri is an example of a foreigner who has successfully integrated into the Bulgarian society. In the short time that he has spent in Bulgaria, and while his case was being processed by the State Refugee Agency with the Council of Ministers, he actively studied Bulgarian at the Agency’s integration center. He thus managed to attain a working knowledge of Bulgarian surprisingly quickly. This gave him the ability to assist his fellow countrymen seeking asylum in Bulgaria, translating for them and taking them to the appropriate institutions. Thanks to his personal qualities, he is able to befriend people and quickly win their respect. He is not afraid to speak his mind, and he has often spoken in defense of other asylum-seekers. Djaved Nouri is an exceptionally artistic individual. He sings, paints, and is a self-taught promoter of authentic Afghan culture in Bulgaria. He has also appeared on a number of television shows, as well as at many official events organized by the refugee community in Bulgaria. Despite all of the facts mentioned above, on 6 December 2005, Order No. 3-512 was issued against Djaved Nouri by the Interior Ministry’s National Security Service, ordering the compulsory administrative measure of “expulsion” in accordance with Art. 10, Para. 1.1 of the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act (FRBA). That order was appealed by a lawyer from the BHC’s Refugees and Migrants Legal Protection Program. In the order cited, the proper authorities did not indicate the specific grounds for imposing the compulsory administrative measure of “expulsion” with regard to Mr. Nouri. As grounds for issuing the order, the administrative authority perfunctorily cited Art. 42 of the FRBA, without specifying which particular provision was applicable in the present case: under the first one, Nouri’s presence in
> racist and xenophobic attitudes in this country, and 3
“Attack” and Siderov have found a language for their public expression. To dissociate the “protest” from the way of speaking and thinking is simply futile; they are interwoven. 3 To those who would say that it is inaccurate to call the hatred towards Turks, Roma, and Jews “xenophobia,” because they are not foreigners, I would reply that the attitude of a significant part of the population towards them resembles the attitude to undesirable foreigners, and this justifies the use of the term. See “The Data Show: Our Society is Ill With Racism,” Emil Cohen,“Obektiv” magazine, Issue 122.
the country would pose a serious threat to national security, while in the second, it would pose a threat to public order. This means that the order’s lack of identification of a specific legal provision prescribing the measure, renders the action being appealed UNLAWFUL, and leads to a serious infringement of Djaved Nouri’s right to legal defense. Thus, in order to enforce the ordered compulsory administrative measure, Djaved Nouri was held in compulsory detention in the HTAA (Home for Temporary Accommodation of Adults) for a period of three months, and subsequently in the SHTAF (Special Home for Temporary Accommodation of Foreigners), where he has already spent 11 (eleven) months without interruption. Throughout this time, his right to freedom of movement has been restricted, while at the same time the competent authorities, represented by the Interior Ministry’s Migration Directorate, General Police Directorate and National Police Service, have not taken any steps towards his deportation from the country. In accordance with the provisions of the law, the measure of “compulsory detention” is an exception to the general rule, the argument of Art. 44, Para. 6 of the FRBA. In this sense, the Director of the Migration Directorate should have presented his reasoning in detail, in order to justify the preferability of taking that special measure instead of the general one; namely, that of “compulsory detention” rather than “police probation/supervision”. Despite the involvement of the BHC Refugee Office, Djaved Nouri continues to be held in the SHTAF. Administrative proceedings have been initiated in response to the complaints filed with the court, and the scheduling of court hearings is being expected. The appropriate officials should provide the Bulgarian court with an answer as to how a person who was seeking asylum in our country has become “a threat to national security” and by which of his actions he has managed to become “a threat to public order”; meanwhile, for Djaved Nouri and the other people in his situation, remains the hope that the Bulgarian court will judge impartially. Second, the political class has done next to nothing to explain, with all the authority and power not only of common morality, but also of the state, that racism is categorically unacceptable in a society that sees itself as democratic. Most people would be shocked, and would reconsider their behavior, if our government institutions were to forcefully - but not forcibly - call a halt to racist ways of thinking and speaking. Instead of engaging in banal attempts to disgrace Siderov, the government and politicians should be clearly, repeatedly, and consistently convincing the public that there is no place in our society for outright racism and xenophobia. OBEKTIV 11