Quake solidarity has reinforced the strong ties between Bulgaria’s Muslim Turkish population and Trkiye, said a senior official. “Even though we did not know the precise magnitude of the quake that jolted southern Trkiye, we knew it was big. Consequently, we moved to mobilize our network of 850 imams and associations of the 1,600 mosques across the country,” said Celal Faik, the general secretary of Bulgaria’s Grand Mufti’s Office, in an interview with Anadolu. By noon on Feb. 6, we had already mobilized our network and initiated our aid drive for those who were affected by the quakes, he added. Moreover, many Turkish health professionals contacted the Turkish Embassy in Sofia to tell them they are ready to go to the quake-stricken areas if and when needed. ‘It couldn’t be otherwise as our hearts always beat together with the hearts of our Turkish brothers and sisters,’ Faik said. He also underscored that the Turkish minority, in coordination with the Turkish Embassy, acted united in collecting aid and sending it to Trkiye. Especially, the executives of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (HOH) party, Turkish Ambassador to Bulgaria Aylin Sekizkok have worked hard to help us and inform the Bulgarian public about the quake-related development in Trkiye, Faik said. According to him, wholehearted contribution to the aid drive by Bulgarians of other ethnicities and religions is also noteworthy since it shows the strong bonds between the country’s 1.25 million strong Muslim Turkish population and non-Muslim compatriots. As such, the $1.6 million we have collected in our campaign included generous donations from our compatriots, Faik added. ‘We, as the Turkish Muslim minority, were so touched by their enthusiastic solidarity. They showed they are more than neighbors to us, they are brothers and sisters,’ he said. Moreover, Bulgarian state institutions, particularly the Defense Ministry, Interior Ministry, and presidency quickly and efficiently responded to the quakes in Trkiye, Faik underlined, drawing attention that President Rumen Radev was among the first world leaders who called his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Likewise, he added, the search and rescue team of the Sofia Municipality was among the first which arrived in Trkiye. ‘Against this background, it is fair to say Bulgaria’s reaction to quakes also showed the solid state of the bilateral relations, in which Bulgaria’s Turkish population acts as a bridge,’ Faik concluded.
Source: Anadolu Agency