Bulgaria: The European Court Found Bulgaria Has Violated Religious Rights

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Subject: Bulgaria: The European Court Found Bulgaria Has Violated Religious Rights

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Original sender: Emil Cohen <toleranc@geobiz.com>

Bulgaria: The European Court Found Bulgaria Has Violated
Religious Rights

Press Release
Sofia, March 12, 2001
The European Court of Human Rights Declared Admissibility of a Case in
Which Bulgaria Was Charged With Violation of the Religious Rights
One week ago the positive decision of the European Court of Human
Rights on the admissibility of the case of Daruish Al-Nashif and
Others v. Bulgaria became known.
On September 15, 2000 Mr. Al-Nashif brought a suit before the European
Court against Bulgaria on the occasion of his expelling from Bulgaria,
that was done two months earlier, because he has developed an "illegal
religious activity", that represent "a threat for the national
In the decision, that was taken on January 25, 2001 the Court
unanimously declared that the complaint of Mr. Al-Nashif under Art. 5,
§4 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) was admissible.
The applicant has complained against his detention incommunicado and
against the deprivation him from the right of appeal to a court
against his detention.
The Court also declared by majority that the complaints of the
applicants that the deportation of Mr. Al-Nashif has violated their
right to respect for heir family life (Art. 8 of the Convention) and
that they have not had an effective remedy in this respect (Article
It is very important to us to stress on the Court’s decision to
declare admissible the complaint of Mr. Daruish Al-Nashif that "the
measures again him were in breach of his right to freedom of religion
(Article 9) and that he did not nave an effective remedy in this
respect (Article 13)".
On July 4, 1999 Mr. Daruish Al-Nashif was expelled from Bulgaria on
the ground that he was "a threat for the national security of the
Republic of Bulgaria". He has charged with "an illegal religious
activity". The basis of the expelling was Sec. 42 of the Aliens Act.
Beside this he was informed that pursuant to Section 47 § 1 of the
Aliens Act the order for expelling was not subject to appeal.
Unfortunately, by its Decision that was published on March 2, 2001 the
Constitutional Court of Republic of Bulgaria confirmed that the
Section 47 § 1 of the Aliens Act remains to be in force. In 2000 there
were a lot of cases of expelling of foreigners on the ground that they
were claimed to represent "a threat for the national security" and all
of them could not reach to the court.
Mr. Al-Nashif, was born in 1967 in Kuwait. He is stateless person of
Palestinian origin. He came to Bulgaria together with his wife Ms
Hetam Haleh in 1992. They obtained a permanent residence permit in
1995. The couple has two minor children, who were born in 1993 and
1994 respectively. The children are Bulgarian nationals by birth. In
August of 1997 Mr. Al-Nashif took part in Islamic seminar that was
carried out in village "Narecenski Bani".  The seminar was attacked by
the police and later was proclaimed as "illegal". No proofs were given
in support of the accusation of this "illegality". Later Mr. Al-Nashif
has tried to establish Islamic religious and educational center in
Smolian – a town with considerably big Muslim minority. During the
period 1998-1999 he managed Sunday school for education of Islam by
the children. On the basis of these "evidence" for his "subversive
activity" on July 4, 1999 Mr. Al-Nashif was expelled from the country.
The expulsion of foreign nationals from the country, claimed to
represent a "threat to national security" due to their religious
practices, continued in 2000. On 8 January, a group of six Islamic
preachers – Ahmadis - was caught in the region of Shoumen and expulsed
from the country. According to police information, they had been
preaching without a permit by the Directorate of Religious Affairs.
Later, in May and June, another three Muslims were ordered out of the
country. One of them was Ahmad Musa, a Palestinian, who has been
living in the country for 15 years and is married to a Bulgarian. He
was later detained and expulsed on 6 August. His wife and three
children remained in Bulgaria. In this case too, the reason for
expulsion was "threat to national security". As it was mentioned
above, the orders based on such considerations in Bulgaria are not
subject to judicial control. For this reason, in end effect nobody
understood exactly on what facts the authorities were basing
themselves. Press reports, clearly implied by the Interior Ministry,
revealed that the accusation was one of "illegal religious activity". 
The only "proof" that was cited was Mr. Musa's participation in the
above mentioned "illegal" Muslim seminar in Narechenski Bani in August
1997. Mr. Musa’s case is now being considered by the European Court of
Human Rights in Strasbourg.
The case of Mr. Al-Nashif  is the second one in which the European
Court on Human Rights found that Bulgaria violate art. 9 of ECHR. The
first one was the case of Hasan and Chaush v. Bulgaria The case
concerns the refusal of the government in February 1995 to register a
leadership of the Muslim believers with Mr. Fikri Hasan as chief
mufti. The Court held that Bulgaria had violated Article 9 of the
European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) through the failure of the
Bulgarian State to remain neutral in the exercise of its powers in
respect of the registration of the Muslim religion. The Court also
held that there had been a violation of Article 13 of the Convention
(right to an effective remedy in the violation of human rights) in
that the Bulgarian Supreme Court had refused to examine the substance
of Mr. Hasan's appeal against the decision of the State and only
assessed whether and to what extent the decision for registration had
been taken by the competent authority within the scope of its powers.
For more details see: Human Rights in Bulgaria in 1995. Report of the
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, January 1996, available at the web site
of BHC: http://www.bghelsinki.org 
See also: Human Rights in Bulgaria in 1999. Report of the Bulgarian
Helsinki Committee, March 2000,
available at the web site of BHC: http://www.bghelsinki.org 
You can see also the Press Release of Tolerance Foundation from August
09, 2000 titled Bulgaria: Muslim expelled from the country for
"illegal religious activity", available at the web site of the Greek
Helsinki Monitor: http://www.greekhelsinki.gr
On behalf of Tolerance Foundation:
Emil Cohen, Prezident

*TOLERANCE FOUNDATION is human rights group, monitoring the freedom of
conscience and the religious freedom practices in Bulgaria, providing
legal assistance to victims of discrimination based on religion, as
well as propagating the idea for tolerance towards religious and other
The group was founded in 1994. President of the Tolerance Foundation
is Mr. Emil Cohen.
Address: 1000 Sofia, 163A "Rakovsky" St., 
phone/fax: (+359 2) 981 23 57;
Phone: (+359 2) 988 31 36
E-mail: toleranc@geobiz.com
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