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February 18, 2014 1:37 pm

Jewish Group ‘Dismayed’ by Neo-Nazi March in Bulgaria

avatar by Joshua Levitt

The Party House in Sofia, Bulgaria. Photo: Wikipedia.

The American Jewish Committee said it was “dismayed” by a neo-Nazi march that took place in Sofia, Bulgaria, over the weekend.

In a statement, the AJC said that the march, held annually since 2003, glorifies Bulgarian General Hristo Lukov, who backed Nazi Germany and was a leader in the repression of Jews in Bulgaria before and during World War II. This year’s march took place despite the decision of Sofia’s mayor to ban it.

AJC Executive Director David Harris, who has visited Bulgaria on numerous occasions and has been honored by the Bulgarian president, said, “This public display of anti-Semitism on the streets of democratic Bulgaria’s capital is shocking.”

Though Bulgarian political and civil society leaders had spoken out strongly against the march taking place, Harris said it was “deeply disturbing” that the police stood by when the march organizers proceeded.

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According to the AJC, participants dressed in Nazi uniforms and carried torches, reminiscent of the period before and during the Holocaust, when General Lukov and his allies sought to spread Nazi ideology in Bulgaria. Lukov was assassinated in 1943.

“Bulgaria today is home to a vibrant Jewish community that, despite Lukov’s efforts to the contrary, was largely saved during World War II by the steadfast courage of other Bulgarians,” Harris said. “Bulgarian authorities, joined by civil society leaders, should step up efforts to counter the Lukov march organizers and other extremists who spread xenophobia and anti-Semitism.”

In 2012, the airport at Burgas, Bulgaria, was the scene of a Hezbollah attack on  tourists which killed five Israelis.

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