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Monday, 23 May 2011

Far-right leader, Muslim come to blows on Bulgarian radio

Far-right leader and a Muslim lawmaker came to blows live on Bulgarian radio on Sunday as tempers frayed during a debate about an attack against a Sofia mosque earlier this week.

The presenter of a political talk show on national radio, Velichko Konakchiev, was forced to interrupt the show and apologise to listeners when the head of the ultra-nationalist Ataka party, Volen Siderov, physically attacked fellow guest Korman Ismailov, a Muslim member of parliament.

"Never before have I had to separate people fighting in my studio. I've never seen anything like it," the veteran talk show host Konakchiev said at the end of the show.

Konakchiev said Siderov started the fight after he was asked to tone down his language during a debate on an incident in Sofia on Friday where Ataka supporters had clashed with worshippers outside a mosque.

Siderov repeatedly called the worshippers "Islamists" and "extremists".
The programme resumed after an initial interruption of several minutes. But when Siderov lost his temper again, Konakchiev asked the far-right leader to leave and ended the show prematurely.

In a statement, the head of national radio, Valery Todorov, condemned the incident.
"It is inadmissible to use national radio to propagate ethnic, religious or national hatred," Todorov said.

A Muslim, an Ataka lawmaker and five policemen were injured in the skirmishes between worshippers and far-right demonstrators on Friday in an incident that has drawn condemnation both at home and in neighbouring Turkey.

Two Ataka supporters have been charged with hooliganism in relation to the incident, prosecutors said.

Times of Oman