SENTINEL 5-5-2011
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Beat Down in Bulgaria

What would MJ say?

May 5, 2011

Fans of Michael Joseph Jackson feel persecuted as hard-earned nonrefundable money was spent on airfare and accommodations to the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, only to see it continued yet again until September this time.

But what if MJ fans were beat by Murray supporters for peacefully meeting together? Well, less than three weeks ago, that's exactly what happened in Bulgaria to spiritual brothers of Michael.

"On April 17 five followers of the Jehovah Witnesses were injured in a clash provoked by a rally against their sect, organized by VMRO," reports the Sofia News Agency (April 26, 2011). "The incident happened in the Black Sea city of Burgas, in front of the Jehovah Witnesses House of Prayer."

Having been a Witness himself, and with family members still currently worshiping as Witnesses, Michael would have been horrified to hear that during the memorial celebration of Christ's death on April 17, 2011, Jehovah's Witnesses in peaceful assembly were attacked!

Background of the Beat Down: "About 20 minutes before the program was to begin," say Witness officials, "an angry mob of about 60 men [described by others familiar with the incident as "football hooligans"], some waving flags of the political party VMRO, gathered in front of the Kingdom Hall."

Another source reveals: "Several smoke bombs were thrown into the hall where they were standing, not to mention rocks, a planter and anything else they could find."

Watchtower officials note that the "Witnesses called the police immediately, but they were slow to respond. At the time of the attack, more than 100 people were inside the hall, including women, children and elderly ones. Injuries resulted from the attack, and five victims were taken to the hospital by ambulance with severe injuries, including concussions."

Reportedly, none of the injuries (including stitches, and a broken nose requiring surgery) was life-threatening. As of this writing, the utterly disturbing scenes can be viewed on several YouTube videos. Viewer discretion is advised.

What Is the VMRO?: The VMRO-BND is a nationalist political party. "Their political platform is run on the idea of a ‘clean Bulgaria'," says one unofficial Witness source close to the action, "or getting rid of all influences that are not Bulgarian in origin."

Perhaps in an effort to bolster a more formidable political platform, the VMRO has targeted the peaceful, docile Witnesses. "For over ten years they have spread lies about us through the media calling us a ‘dangerous sect' and claiming that we encourage suicide, kill our children and refuse medical treatment."

Witness ‘Mafia'?: VMRO allegedly claims that the Witnesses are "funded by organized crime." However, it's doubtful that powerful criminal organizations would allow their members to be beat down without a violent--or even deadly--response.

The Witnesses still maintain a calm, peaceful serenity about themselves, and are content to pursue legal remedies. The police were caught off guard because the VMRO "never registered with the authorities to do this protest," says the source, "which again was an illegal thing to do."

Early Christians: Christ and his followers also suffered threats of violence--and even violence itself--from unruly mobs. (1) "When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. Jumping up, they mobbed [Jesus] and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff." (Lu 4:28-30, New Living Translation);

(2) "While they were listening to these things, they became more and more furious and began to grind their teeth at him. ... [T]hey shouted out loud, stopped listening, and together they all rushed at him, ran him outside of the city, and began to stone him to death." (Ac 7:54-60, International Standard Version);

(3) "But Jews ... persuaded the crowds, and they stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, imagining he was dead. "--Ac 14:19, New World Translation.

Legal Remedy: So far, 15 of the 60 have been charged, and Bulgarian Witness officials have lodged a human rights complaint with the European Court. A violent hate crime against a peaceful religious group has never happened in all of Bulgaria's history.

Surely, the vast majority of Bulgarians (including those who consistently visit, along with other visitors from over 155 countries, lands, territories, and islands that dot our seas and oceans), are also appalled by the attacks.

The Bulgarian language, with its distinctive Cyrillic alphabet, is one of about 34 languages this column is translated into. Peace and blessings to all. Amen.