A nation suffering from “migration shock,” Bulgaria has long been in the news regarding its struggle contain the relentless wave of Muslim immigrants pouring over its southeastern border.
Bulgaria borders Turkey, which borders Syria, which borders Iraq. Bulgaria “registered 31,281 new arrivals in 2015, which represents 89.3 percent of all land arrivals in the EU for the same year,” according to a report by the International Organization for Migration reported by NBC News.
Like Turkey, Bulgaria has reinforced the border with wire fence. Still the onslaught continues, with 200 to 300 would-be immigrants caught attempting to cross illegally each week, according to Middle East Eye.
Although only government border patrols are legally sanctioned, Bulgaria has reportedly turned a blind eye to volunteer “militias” springing up to defend the border.
The latest of such groups is better trained, often armed, and has the implicit approval of the government. Bulgarian National Movement Shipka, abbreviated in Bulgarian as BNO Shipka, claims an unverified 50,000 members who view themselves as patriots.
“I’m not nationalistic or anything like that. I’m just a patriot,” said 34-year-old founding member Nikolai Ivanov. He says that ideology, not religion, is the issue. “It’s not a problem that they are Muslims. The problem is, it’s a different civilization. They don’t think like us, they have a totally different view about life, about everything.”
BNO Shipka’s leader, Vladimir Rusev, agrees.
“The migrants from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, which come to Europe illegally, are a huge threat to the European citizens and the national countries. The immigrants (for the bigger part) are ISIS fighters,” he said, according to Middle East Eye.
There is also the matter of the cultural identity crisis sweeping Europe. “If we don’t do something soon, it’s not just Bulgaria, but all of Europe,” said Ivanov.
A staunch hardliner, Rusev labels as traitors those government officials “who aid and abet the illegal migration into Europe of nationals of countries outside the EU and so facilitate the occupation and enslavement of their own people,” according to Breitbart. He believes those officials should be subject to prosecution for treason.
Bulgaria has another, less obvious, reason for protecting its borders from immigration via Turkey. Bulgaria was occupied by the Ottoman Empire for nearly 500 years, suffering genocide, religious persecution and enslavement before becoming independent from the Muslim imperial government in 1878.
BNO Shipka member Nikolai Ivanov believes the refugee crisis is a Turkish plot to slip ISIS militants into Bulgaria with the intent to attack. Then, with the blessing of NATO, Turkey would enter Bulgaria to “save” it while reclaiming Bulgaria for itself.
Conspiracy theory? Yes. Far-fetched? You decide.
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