ISLAM and MUSLIMS IN BULGARIA

      

General Information

Republic of Bulgaria

Land area: 42,683 sq mi (110,549 sq km); total area: 42,823 sq mi (110,910 sq km )

Population (2008 est.): 7,262,675

Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Sofia, 1,088,700

Other large cities: Plovdiv, 338,200; Varna, 312,300; Burgas, 192,000; Ruse, 161,000

Monetary unit: Lev

Languages: Bulgarian 85%, Turkish 10%, Roma 4%

Ethnicity/race: Bulgarian 83.9%, Turk 9.4%, Roma 4.7%, other (including Macedonian, Armenian, Tatar, Circassian) 2% (2001)

National Holiday: Liberation Day, March 3

Religions: Bulgarian Orthodox 83%, Islam 12%, other Christian 1% (2001)

Literacy rate: 98.2% (2006 est.)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2007 est.): $86.32 billion; per capita $11,300. Real growth rate: 6.2%. Inflation: 7.6%.

Bulgaria shares borders with Serbia, Macedonia, Romania, Greece, and Turkey. Two mountain ranges and two great valleys mark the topography of Bulgaria, a country the size of Tennessee and situated on the Black Sea. The Maritsa is Bulgaria's principal river, and the Danube also flows through the country.

The Thracians lived in what is now known as Bulgaria from about 3500 B.C. They were incorporated into the Roman Empire by the first century A.D. At the decline of the empire, the Goths, Huns, Bulgars, and Avars invaded. The Bulgars, who crossed the Danube from the north in 679, took control of the region. Although the country bears the name of the Bulgars, the Bulgar language and culture died out, replaced by a Slavic language, writing, and religion. In 865, Boris I adopted Orthodox Christianity. The Bulgars twice conquered most of the Balkan peninsula between 893 and 1280. But in 1396 they were invaded by the Ottoman Empire, which made Bulgaria a Turkish province until 1878. Ottoman rule was harsh and inescapable, given Bulgaria's proximity to its oppressor. In 1878, Russia forced Turkey to give Bulgaria its independence after the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878). But the European powers, fearing Russia's and Bulgaria's dominance in the Balkans, intervened at the Congress of Berlin (1878), limiting Bulgaria's territory and fashioning it into a small principality ruled by Alexander of Battenburg, the nephew of the Russian czar.

Alexander was succeeded in 1887 by Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who declared a kingdom independent of the Ottoman Empire on Oct. 5, 1908. In the First Balkan War (1912–1913), Bulgaria and the other members of the Balkan League fought against Turkey to regain Balkan territory. Angered by the small portion of Macedonia it received after the battle—it considered Macedonia an integral part of Bulgaria—the country instigated the Second Balkan War (June–Aug. 1913) against Turkey as well as its former allies. Bulgaria lost the war and all the territory it had gained in the First Balkan War. Bulgaria joined Germany in World War I in the hope of again gaining Macedonia. After this second failure, Ferdinand abdicated in favor of his son in 1918. Boris III squandered Bulgaria's resources and assumed dictatorial powers in 1934–1935. Bulgaria fought on the side of the Nazis in World War II, but after Russia declared war on Bulgaria on Sept. 5, 1944, Bulgaria switched sides. Three days later, on Sept. 9, 1944, a Communist coalition took control of the country and set up a government under Kimon Georgiev.

A Soviet-style People's Republic was established in 1947 and Bulgaria acquired the reputation of being the most slavishly loyal to Moscow of all the East European Communist countries. The general secretary of the Bulgarian Communist Party, Todor Zhikov, resigned in 1989 after 35 years in power. His successor, Peter Mladenov, purged the Politburo, ended the Communist monopoly on power, and held free elections in May 1990 that led to a surprising victory for the Communist Party, renamed the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). Mladenov was forced to resign in July 1990.

Islamic History and Muslims

The Muslim population of Bulgaria, including Turks, Muslim Bulgarians, Pomaks, Roma, and Crimean Tatars, lives mainly in northeastern Bulgaria and in the Rhodope Mountains. According to the 2001 Census, the total number of Muslims in the country stood at 966,978, corresponding to 12.2% of the population. According to the criterion of ethnic group they were divided into the following groups:

Turks - 713,000;
Bulgarians - 131,000;
Roma - 103,000;
Others - 20,000;

Most of the Bulgarian Muslims are Sunni Muslims as Sunni Islam was the form of Islam promoted by the Ottoman Turks during their five-century rule of Bulgaria. Shi'a sects such as the Alians, Kizilbashi and the Bektashi also are present, however. About 80,000 Shi'a Muslims live mainly in the Razgrad, Sliven and Tutrakan (northeast of Rousse) regions. They are mainly descendants of Bulgarians who converted to Islam to avoid Ottoman persecution but chose a Shi'a sect because of its greater tolerance toward different national and religious customs. For example, Kuzulbashi Bulgarians could maintain the Orthodox customs of communion, confession, and honoring saints. This integration of Orthodox customs into Islam gave rise to a type of syncretism found only in Bulgaria.

The largest mosque in Bulgaria was the Tumbul Mosque in Shumen, built in 1744.

Like the practitioners of other beliefs including Orthodox Christians, Muslims suffered under the restriction of religious freedom by the marxist-leninist Todor Zhivkov regime which favoured atheism and suppressed religious communities. The Bulgarian communist regimes declared traditional Muslim beliefs to be diametrically opposed to secular communist ideology.

After the breakdown of communism, Muslims in Bulgaria again enjoyed greater religious freedom. Some villages organized Qur'an study courses for young people (study of the Qur'an had been completely forbidden under Zhivkov). Muslims also began publishing their own newspaper, Musulmani, in both Bulgarian and Turkish.

Ahmadiyyat in Bulgaria

Though, it is mostly Christians that reside here, and are the rulers but Ahmadiyya, an Islamic sect faces severe persecution. In Bulgaria, Ahmadies have been barred from following their religion and are put through trial in various forms. Ahmadiyya is a growing sect of Islam and they face persecution throughout many countries - these countries include Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, India and it's starting to grow in European countries as well now. Ahmadiyya sect believes that them facing persecution is also a sign of their truthfulness. According to them, all true prophets and their followers have faced persecution, such as in the case of Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad.


Muslims in Bulgaria in accordance to their ethnic groups


Turks (612,818)
Bulgarian Gypsies (112,495)
Millets (77,712)
Pomaks (71,978)
Balkan Gypsies (23,298)
Bulgarians (18,623)
Crimean Tatars (5,800)
Arabs (4,710)
Ahmadi Muslims (4,000)
Eastern Bulgarian Gypsies (2,456)
Vlach Gypsies (1,463)
Macedonians (1,020)
Albanians (876)
Circassians (512)
Kurds (190)

  Banya Bashi mosque, built in 1576 by the great Ottoman architect Sinan, is the only functioning mosque that remains of 500 years of Ottoman domination in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria

  General Mufti's Office of Bulgaria

  A mosque in Madan in the Rhodopes, a region largely populated by Muslim Bulgarians


 

  The Imaret Mosque, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, also known as the Sehabüddin Pasha Mosque, built in 1444; during the late 1980s, the grounds of the mosque were turned into rubbish tip; this protograph was taken in 1987. Today, this mosque is a branch of the Archeological Museum, and a popular tourist destination.

Sofia's mosque. 

 

                                                         Djumaya Mosque Bulgaria Plovdiv 1364 (converted from a church) U Oldest Mosque in Europe!

                                                                                                           Tombul Mosque Bulgaria Shumen 1740-1744

The Bulgarian Muslims (Bulgarian: българи-мохамедани; locally called pomak, ahryan, poganets, marvak, poturnak) are Bulgarians of the Islamic faith. They are descendants of Christian Bulgarians who converted to Islam during the period between the 16th and the 18th century, during the Ottoman rule over Bulgaria.

Muslim Bulgarians live mostly in the Rhodopes – Smolyan Province, the southern part of Pazardzhik and Kardzhali Provinces and the eastern part of Blagoevgrad Province in Southern Bulgaria, as well as the Xanthi and Rhodope Prefectures in Northeastern Greece. They also live in a group of villages in Lovech Province in Northern Bulgaria.

The name Pomak is strongly pejorative in Bulgarian and is resented by most members of the community, especially by non-practising Muslims. The name adopted and used instead is Bulgarian Muslims.

Geographic distribution

Bulgaria
Muslim Bulgarians do not represent a homogenous community. The ones living in Pirin and on the western fringes of the Rhodopes (in the provinces of Pazardzhik and Blagoevgrad) are, however, strongly religious and have preserved the Muslim name system, customs and clothing. Whereas the one third of the community has identified itself as Bulgarian in the population censuses in 1992 and 2001, one third of the minority in the Western Rhodopes has opted for Turkish ethnicity although its mother tongue is also Bulgarian.

Muslim Pomaks in the Rhodopes speak a variety of archaic Bulgarian dialects. Under the influence of mass media and school education, the dialects have been almost completely unified with standard Bulgarian among Muslim Bulgarians living in Bulgaria.

Greece
As Greece has tended to regard its Muslim minority as only Turkish-speaking and has allowed only education in Turkish, the Muslim Bulgarian community in Greece has become largely bilingual and the mother tongue of some of its members now is Turkish. The spoken language of those members of the community who have preserved the dialect as their mother tongue has been influenced to a large extent by Turkish and Greek and shows many aberrations from standard Bulgarian.

The Muslim Bulgarian community in Greece has been largely Turkified. Since the 1990s Greece has made tentative attempts to promote a separate Pomak identity, partly because of the advanced Turkification of the non-Turkish members of its Muslim minority (Muslim Bulgarians and Roma) and partly for fear of the growing percentage of Muslims in Thrace in the past couple of decennia. A Greek-Pomak dictionary has been issued and Muslim Bulgarians have frequently been described by Greek authorities as an amalgamation of Bulgarians, Greeks and Turks or Muslim Slavophone Greeks.

Turkey
There is also a substantial Muslim community originated from Bulgaria not related to the Turks migrated to Bulgaria in 1300s and 1400s in Turkey, estimated at some 200,000 people. These are not considered by the Turkish government as an ethnic minority and have been largely accepted as Turks descendants of Kumans and Pechenek Turkic tribes of the ancient times. Some of them have Turkish or distinctive Pomak self-consciousness.

Pomaks

The Pomaks (Bulgarian: Помаци, Pomatsi; Greek: Πομάκοι, Pomaki; Turkish: Pomaklar) or Muslim Bulgarians (българи мюсюлмани, bălgari mjusjulmani), also known locally as Ahryani (Bulgarian: Ахряни), are an Islamized Slavic population of the Rhodope region, as well as some villages around Teteven in the central Balkan Mountains region. Their origins are obscure, but they are generally believed to be Bulgarians who converted to Islam during the period of Ottoman rule in the Balkans.

The term can also be occasionally used to refer to the Torbesh - Slavonic Muslims in Macedonia. Pomaks are settled mainly in Bulgaria, but relevant presences exist also in Greece, Turkey and the Republic of Macedonia.

However a specific DNA mutation, which emerged about 2,000 years ago on a rare haplotype is characteristic of the Pomaks. Its frequency increased as a consequence of high genetic drift within this population, and it was dispersed throughout the Mediterranean basin and Middle East with minor variations of its haplotypic pattern. This is eveidence for the local origin of this population.

Etymologies

Etymology of Pomak
The origin of the term "Pomak" is uncertain. For the Bulgarian scholars the term could derive either from the Bulgarian word pomagach (помагач), meaning "helper" (the most commonly accepted interpretation):136-37, referring to their role as auxiliary units of the Ottoman army; or from pomohamedancheni (помохамеданчени), which means "Islamized".

Some Greek scholars claim that Pomak comes from the Greek pomax, meaning "drinker" an opinion which is based on the habit of ancient Thracians to drink a lot.

Etymology of Ahryani
The number of possible meanings of the word Ahryani (Ахряни) is very great indeed.One of the interesting aspects of the name is the very richness of possibilities of meaning associated with it.

1 Alexander Teodorov Balan considers Ahryani most probably to be derived from the old district name Ahu-chelebi (Smolyan)
It is suggested it comes from the Old Church Slavonic Agarjani, meaning "infidels", but it might actually derive from the para-religious Muslim brethren of the Ahi, very diffuse in the Rhodopes in the Ottoman period, as supposed by the Bulgarian scholar A. Ishirkov. Other versions still derive it from po măka (по мъка), that is "by pain", referring to an alleged forced conversion to Islam; or poturnyak, literally "one made a Turk". None of these etymologies appear to be trustworthy.It is also believed that Ahryani would derive from the name of a supposedly Thracian tribe, the Agrianoi.

Etymology of Torbeshi
The Muslim Bulgarians in Western and North Western Macedonia have been accustomed to call themselves Torbeshi, especially around the districts of Shar, Debar, Skopie, Kichevo, and so on.It seems that the Torbeshi have been associated with the Bogomils.

Conversion to Islam
Little is known for certain of the conversion of the Pomaks to Islam; what appears certain is that it was gradual and took place in different periods. The first contacts of Islam with the Balkan nations is reported to have occurred in the 7th and 8th centuries, though it is not known for certain whether any Pomaks converted to Islam at that time. A first important wave of conversions took place when, in the second half of the 14th century, the Ottomans conquered Bulgaria; many landholders are reported to have converted as a means to keep the possession of their lands. Other conversions took place under the Sultan Selim II (1512–20), but most important was the 17th century, when the Rhodopes passed to the Muslim faith. Pomak presence further gained strength through the 18th century, while the last waves of conversions in the Balkans took place in the early 19th century.

These conversions were often believed until the early 20th century to have been made under compulsion, a belief that modern historians have discredited observing that Ottoman authorities rarely took measures to promote Islamization, and believe the Pomaks' conversion to have been voluntary. However, as dhimmis (non-Muslims under Muslim rule) they would have been under social and political disadvantages, notably the payment of extra taxes, which disappeared upon conversion to Islam. Official Bulgarian historiography instead has long claimed their conversion to have been forced against their fiercest resistance; this was seen as a mean to salvage the idea that all Bulgarians had been united in opposing the "Turkish yoke". This way the perfect "Bulgarianness" (bălgarshtina) of the Pomaks could be preserved, coining the official ethonym "Bulgarian Mohammedans" (bălgaromohamedani). An example of this sort of positions was expressed in 1989 by the nationalist historian Andrey Pechilkov: "After adopting Islam under the most terrible and harshest circumstances they (i.e. the Bulgarian Muslims) — people whose mind is full of tragedy, but who are hard as stones - did keep their beautiful Bulgarian language, their old Slavic traditions, their pure national character, despite brutal pressure and persecution throughout centuries."

Turks in Bulgaria

Turks in Bulgaria constituted 9.4% of the total population in 2001 and are the largest minority group in Bulgaria. The Turks in Bulgaria are descendants of the early Turkic settlers who came from Anatolia across the narrows of the Dardanelles and the Bosporus following the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans during late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. However, according to one study, some Turks are descendants of earlier medieval Oğuz, Pecheneg, and Cuman Turkic tribes.

Today, the Turks of Bulgaria are concentrated in two rural areas, in the Northeast (Ludogorie/Deliorman) and the Southeast (the Eastern Rhodopes). They form the absolute majority in the province of Kardzhali and relative majority in the province of Razgrad. It is important to note, that it is difficult to establish accurately the number of the Turks because some Roma, Crimean Tatars, Circassians and Pomaks tend to identify themselves as Turk.
Turks settled in the territory of modern Bulgaria during and after the Ottoman counquest of the Balkans in the late XIV and early XV centuries. Being the dominant group in the Ottoman Empire for the next 5 centuries, they played an important part in the economic and cultural life of the land. The Turks lived predominantly in some of the big towns in Bulgaria - Felibe, Varna, Shumlu and etc. The decline of Turkish population relatively to that of the other large ethnic groups in the region (Bulgarians, Greeks) started with the decline of the Ottoman Empire in the 17'th century. After the liberation of Bulgaria in 1878, because of their status as former rulers, the Turks had a stormy relationship with Bulgaria. The estimates of the number of Turks in Bulgaria prior to the Russo-Turkish war of 1878 vary from between a third to being the majority of the total population. Turks began emigrating during and after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-8. The movement continued, with some interruptions, through the late 1980s.

The biggest wave of Turkish emigration occurred in 1989, however, when 310,000 Turks left Bulgaria as a result of the communist Zhivkov regime's assimilation campaign. That program, which began in 1984, forced all Turks and other Muslims in Bulgaria to adopt Bulgarian names and renounce all Muslim customs. The motivation of the 1984 assimilation campaign was unclear; however, many experts believed that the disproportion between the birth rates of the Turks and the Bulgarians was a major factor. During the name-changing phase of the campaign, Turkish towns and villages were surrounded by army units. Citizens were issued new identity cards with Bulgarian names. Failure to present a new card meant forfeiture of salary, pension payments, and bank withdrawals. Birth or marriage certificates would be issued only in Bulgarian names. Traditional Turkish costumes were banned; homes were searched and all signs of Turkish identity removed. Mosques were closed. According to estimates, 500 to 1,500 people were killed when they resisted assimilation measures, and thousands of others went to labor camps or were forcibly resettled. The fall of communism in Bulgaria led to a reversal of the state's policy towards its citizens of Turkish ethnical origin. After the fall of Zhivkov in 1989, the National Assembly of Bulgaria attempted to restore cultural rights to the Turkish population. In 1991 a new law gave anyone affected by the name-changing campaign three years to officially restore original names and the names of children born after the name change. In January 1991, Turkish-language lessons were reintroduced for four hours per week in parts of the country with a substantial Turkish population, such as the former Kurdzhali and Razgrad districts. According to the 2001 census, there are 746,664 ethnic Turks in Bulgaria. The number of Bulgarian citizens from Turkish descent residing in Turkey is put at 326,000. During the 2005 Bulgarian parliamentary elections an estimate of 120,000 of them voted either in Bulgaria or polling stations set up in Turkey.


History
Turks, although today numerically small –a little over 1 million people (about 2 percent of the total Balkan population) - have played a role in shaping the history of the Balkans far beyond their numbers.


Emergence of the Turkish Community in Bulgaria

During the Great Migrations of nations some ethnic groups, among which Turkic tribes from the Eurasian steppes held an important place, migrated toward the west. The geographical location and the fertile lands of the Balkan Peninsula which at the time was part of the Eastern Roman Empire attracted different ethnicities that included a number of Turkic tribes. The migrations of these Turkic tribes into the region continued for centuries and included certain periods of greater intensity. These Turkic migrations can be divided into the following periods:

The initial period starts during the 4th century and assumes a more massive character in the eve of the establishment of the Bulgar state. It continues until the transformation of the Tengriist Turkic Bulgars into the Slavic Bulgarians within a hundred years following their conversion to Orthodox Christianity in the middle of the ninth century.

The Byzantine period includes the years of Byzantine rule during which the Pechenegs, Uzes (Oghuz Turks), and Cumans entered the Balkans.

The Ottoman period between the end of 14th and the 19th centuries during which the Turko-Islamic identity is consolidated.

In the course of these centuries Turkic communities gradually settled in Bulgaria. Turkic peoples, especially those who entered these territories during the Byzantine and Ottoman periods, left deep marks on the ethnic composition of the population. They played a decisive role in the formation of the Turkish community in Bulgaria.


Settlement of Turks in Bulgaria During the Ottoman Period

Today, the Turks of Bulgaria are concentrated in two rural areas, in the Northeast (Ludogorie/Deliorman) and the Southeast (the Eastern Rhodopes). They form the absolute majority in the province of Kardzhali and relative majority in the province of Razgrad. It is important to note, that it is difficult to establish accurately the number of the Turks because some Roma, Crimean Tatars, Circassians and Pomaks tend to identify themselves as Turk

Turks settled in the territory of modern Bulgaria during and after the Ottoman counquest of the Balkans in the late XIV and early XV centuries. Being the dominant group in the Ottoman Empire for the next 5 centuries, they played an important part in the economic and cultural life of the land. The Turks lived predominantly in some of the big towns in Bulgaria - Felibe, Varna, Shumlu and etc. The decline of Turkish population relatively to that of the other large ethnic groups in the region (Bulgarians, Greeks) started with the decline of the Ottoman Empire in the 17'th century. After the liberation of Bulgaria in 1878, because of their status as former rulers, the Turks had a stormy relationship with Bulgaria. The estimates of the number of Turks in Bulgaria prior to the Russo-Turkish war of 1878 vary from between a third to being the majority of the total population. Turks began emigrating during and after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-8. The movement continued, with some interruptions, through the late 1980s.

The biggest wave of Turkish emigration occurred in 1989, however, when 310,000 Turks left Bulgaria as a result of the communist Zhivkov regime's assimilation campaign. That program, which began in 1984, forced all Turks and other Muslims in Bulgaria to adopt Bulgarian names and renounce all Muslim customs. The motivation of the 1984 assimilation campaign was unclear; however, many experts believed that the disproportion between the birth rates of the Turks and the Bulgarians was a major factor. During the name-changing phase of the campaign, Turkish towns and villages were surrounded by army units. Citizens were issued new identity cards with Bulgarian names. Failure to present a new card meant forfeiture of salary, pension payments, and bank withdrawals. Birth or marriage certificates would be issued only in Bulgarian names. Traditional Turkish costumes were banned; homes were searched and all signs of Turkish identity removed. Mosques were closed. According to estimates, 500 to 1,500 people were killed when they resisted assimilation measures, and thousands of others went to labor camps or were forcibly resettled. The fall of communism in Bulgaria led to a reversal of the state's policy towards its citizens of Turkish ethnical origin. After the fall of Zhivkov in 1989, the National Assembly of Bulgaria attempted to restore cultural rights to the Turkish population. In 1991 a new law gave anyone affected by the name-changing campaign three years to officially restore original names and the names of children born after the name change. In January 1991, Turkish-language lessons were reintroduced for four hours per week in parts of the country with a substantial Turkish population, such as the former Kurdzhali and Razgrad districts. According to the 2001 census, there are 746,664 ethnic Turks in Bulgaria. The number of Bulgarian citizens from Turkish descent residing in Turkey is put at 326,000. During the 2005 Bulgarian parliamentary elections an estimate of 120,000 of them voted either in Bulgaria or polling stations set up in Turkey.


Turkish Press in Bulgaria 1879 – 1945
The Turkish press in Bulgaria established its self almost simultaneously with the foundation of the Bulgarian Principality in 1878. Under the new/”foreign” Bulgarian administration the Turkish intellectuals felt the need to communicate the new laws and regulations to the Turkish population by first providing translations of the Bulgarian State Gazette. During the years the number of Turkish newspapers and publications published in the Principality of Bulgaria rose to 90.

The Turkish Press in Bulgaria was faced with many difficulties and a significant amount of newspapers operated in the verge of being banned and their journalists being expelled from the country. Turkish journalists and teachers organised by establishing the Islamic Teachers Community in Bulgaria (Bulgaristan Muallimi Islâmiye Cemiyeti) and the Union of Turan Communities in Bulgaria (Turan Cemiyetleri Birliği) which was a youth organisation. The leaders of these organisations met during National Congresses held each year in different locations in Bulgaria. The largest National Congress was held in Sofia in 1929 with over 1000 participants.


Between 1895 – 1945 there were several well known Turkish newspapers in Bulgaria:

GAYRET: The newspaper was founded in Plovdiv in 1895 and printed by Filibeli Rıza Paşa. In 1896 the famous Turkish thinker and intellectual Übeydullah Efendi wrote columns in Gayret and in a later stage became the newspaper’s head columnist.

MUVAZENE: The weekly newspaper was first published in 20.8.1897 in Plovdiv by the graduates of the Mektebi Mülkiye Ulumu Siyasie and printed by Filibeli Rıza Paşa. The newspaper’s operations temporarily moved to Varna before returning to back to Plovdiv. One of the most known writers in Muvazene was Ali Fefhmi Bey who promoted the unionisation of the Turkish teachers in Bulgaria and was the instigator of the first Turkish teacher’s congress in Shumen. During the congress the Islamic Teachers Community in Bulgaria (Bulgaristan Muallimi Islâmiye Cemiyeti) was founded.

RUMELI – BALKAN: Founded in 1904 by Etem Ruhi Balkan. After the first three editions the newspaper’s name was changed to Balkan. Daily editions were published until the eruption of the Balkan Wars in 1912. The newspaper was also printed by Maullimi Mehmet Mahri and Halil Zeki Bey. Since Etem Ruhi was often imprisoned the management of the newspaper shifted to Hüsnü Mahmut in 1912 and 1917 Halil Ibrahim became the head editor. The newspaper ended its publications in 1920.

UHUVVET: Founded by unknown group of journalists in 24.5.1904 the weekly newspaper was printed in Rousse and focused on politics and daily events. In 1905 Mehmet Teftiş became the manager of the newspaper.

TUNA: Founded in 1.9.1905 by Mehmet Teftiş, Tuna was a daily newspaper printed in Rousse. After 415 editions the newspaper ended its operations, however on 13.10.1908 the publications of Tuna resumed after a group of intellectual Turks established a separate company designated to meet the needs for a Turkish daily newspaper in the region. The main contributors in the new Tuna newspaper were Tahir Lütfi Bey, Hafız Abdullah Meçik and Kizanlikli Ali Haydar.

TERBIYE OCAĞI: Established in 1921 by the Islamic Teachers Community in Bulgaria (Bulgaristan Muallimi Islâmiye Cemiyeti) and printed in Varna between 1923 – 1925. Known contributors in Terbiye Ocaği were Osman Nuri Peremeci, Hafız Abdullah Meçik, Hasip Ahmet Aytuna, Mustafa Şerif Alyanak, Mehmet Mahsum, Osmanpazarli Ibrahim Hakki Oğuz, Ali Avni, Ebuşinasi Hasan Sabri, Hüseyin Edip and Tayyarzade Cemil Bey.

YOLDAŞ: Founded in 1921 by Hafız Abdullah Meçik and published every second week in Shumen. Yoldaş was one of the first Turkish children’s publications in Bulgaria.

DELIORMAN: Owned by Mahmut Necmettin Deliorman the newspaper started its publications in 21.10.1922 in Razgrad with Ahmet Ihsan as its head editor. Between 1923 – 1915 Mustafa Şerif Alyanak took on the job of head editor with weekly editions. Deliorman also functioned as a main publication for the Turkish Union of Sport’s Clubs in Bulgaria. Turkish columnists such as Hasip Saffeti, Ahmet Aytuna, Hafiz Ismail Hakki, Yahya Hayati, Hüsmen Celal, Çetin Ebuşinasi and Hasan Sabri were household names in Deliorman.

TURAN: Founded on 6.5.1928 in Vidin, Turan was a channel for the Union of Turkish Youth Communities in Bulgaria. The newspaper was also printed in Kardzhali and Varna until it was closed in 1934.

TEBLIGAT: Founded in 1929 and published by the office of the Grand Mufti and Islamic Foundations in Sofia.

RODOP: Founded in April 1929 in Kardzhali by Lütfi Takanoğlu. Rodop focused on the rights, freedoms and national matters of the Turkish population in Bulgaria. Most known writers in Rodop were Mustafa Şerif Alyanak and Ömer Kaşif Nalbandoğlu. As many other Turkish newspapers in Bulgaria Rodop was forced to stop its operations during 1934 and its writers were either expelled or forced to seek refuge in Turkey.


 Transfer of Land
The transfer of land from Turkish to Bulgarian ownership which was the most important effect of Turkish emigration was a complex process. Such transfers had taken place before 1878 and in the Tatar Pazardzhik district, for example, where Bulgarian landowners had been unknown in 1840, some two thousand plots had been bought by them between 1872 and 1875. In 1877 and in the following years the process of transfer took place on an immensely grater scale, both here and elsewhere.

With the outbreak of war some Turks sold their property, mostly to wealthy local Bulgarians. Other Turks rented their lands, usually to dependable local Bulgarians, on the understanding that it would be handed back if and when the owners returned. Most departing Turks, however, simply abandoned their land and fled, the fall of Pleven had made it clear that the Russians were to win the War. As the Turks fled many Bulgarians left the hills and forests and seized some of the land now made vacant. The incidence of seizure varied regionally. In the north-east the Turks were numerous and, feeling safety in numbers, few of them had left and those remaining were therefore strong enough to discourage seizures by Bulgarians. In the north and south-west on the other hand almost all Turks had fled and their lands were immediately taken over by local Bulgarians who often divided up the large estates found in these areas. In the remainder of northern Bulgaria transfers, often under the cloak of renting, took place in approximately one third of the communities. In the Turnovo province, for example, there were seventy-seven Turkish mixed Turkish-Bulgarian villages of which twenty-four (31.0%) were seized by Bulgarians, twenty two (28.5%) were later repossessed by returning Turkish refugees, and another twenty-two remained unaffected; the fate of the remaining nine is unknown. In the south-west there was much more tension and violence. Here there was no provisions about renting and there were cases of Bulgarian peasants not only seizing land but also destroying buildings.
In vast majority of the cases it was local Bulgarians who seized the vacant land but Bulgarians from other parts of Bulgaria where there had been little Turkish emigration, and Bulgarian refugees from Ottoman repressions in Macedonia and Western Thrace also took part in the seizures. In later months the publication of the terms of the Treaty of Berlin naturally intensified the flow of refugees from these areas and they were reported by the prefect of Burgas province as helping themselves to émigré land “in a most arbitrary fashion”.

In Burgas and the rest of Eastern Rumelia the Treaty of Berlin intensified the land struggle by making Bulgarians more determined to seize sufficient land before Ottoman sovereignty was restored. It also encouraged the former Turkish owners to return. With these problems the Russian Provisional Administration had to contend.

The Provisional Administration did not have the power, even if it had had the will, to prevent so popular a movement as the seizure of vacant Turkish land, but not could the Administration allow this movement to go completely unchecked for this would give the Turks and the British the excuse to interfere in the internal affairs of the liberated territories. Given these dangers the Russians handled the agrarian problem with considerable skill. In the summer of 1877 Bulgarian refugees from Macedonia, Thrace and Ottoman Rumelia had been allowed to harvest the crops left by Turkish émigrés and in September all Bulgarians, the incoming refugees and the indigenous, were allowed to sow vacant Turkish land, though it was insisted that this did not in any way signify a transfer of ownership. With the mass exodus of Turks after the Treaty of San Stefano the Provisional Administration had little choice but to allow the Bulgarians to work the vacant land with rent, set at half the value of the harvest, to be paid to the legal owner. In many cases the Bulgarians simply refused to pay this rent and the Russians were not over-zealous in collecting such monies.

When the Treaty of Berlin guaranteed Turkish property rights and restored southern Bulgaria to the Sultan's sovereignty at least 80,000 of the 150,000 Turkish émigrés had returned by September 1878. This caused enormous problems including housing the returning Turks whose property had been taken over by Bulgarians or destroyed. In September local authorities ordered that any houses taken over by Bulgarians were to be restored to their former owners on the latter's demand, whilst other returning Turks were given Tatar or Circassian land.

These problems were insignificant compared to those raised when the returning Turks demanded the restitution of their lost lands.

In July 1878 the Russian Provisional Administration had come to an agreement with the Porte by which Turkish refugees were allowed to return under military escort, if necessary, and were to have their lands back on condition that they surrendered all their weapons. In August 1878 it was decreed that those returning would not be immune from prosecution and anyone against whom any charges were substantiated would be deprived of his lands. This decree did more than anything else to discourage the return of more Turks and from the date of this enactment the flow of returning refugees began gradually to diminish. There were, however, many claims still to be dealt with and in November 1878 mixed Turkish and Bulgarian commissions were established in all provinces to examine these claims. The decisions were to be made in accordance with rules drawn up by the Russian embassy in Constantinople in consultation with the Porte, and under them Bulgarian could secure the legal right to a piece of land if they could produce the authentic title-deeds, tapii, and thereby prove that the land at dispute had originally been taken from them forcibly or fraudulently.

After the departure of the Russians in the spring of 1879 the administration in Plovdiv ordered to enforce court decisions returning land to the Turks. Only half of the courts had recorded such decisions. Other actions were even less emotive and in 1880 the position of the Bulgarians in Eastern Rumelia had improved. The Plovdiv government introduced new methods for authenticating claims, allowing local courts to issue new title deeds if they were satisfied that existing documentation proved ownership, or if local communal councils had issued certificates attesting ownership. Most local councils were entirely Bulgarian or were dominated by Bulgarians and decided in favour of their co-nationals far more often than did the mixed commissions with whom the prerogative of adjunction had previously rested. In many instances, too, Bulgarians refused to relinquish land they had seized and as late as 1884 there were still Turkish landlords demanding the implementation of court orders restoring their property.

The Bulgarians in Rumelia were also helped from 1880 onwards because the Turks began to drift once more into exile. This was very much the result of disappointed hopes for a full restoration of Turkish power south of the Balkan range. By 1880 the Bulgarians had become the majority and had established political ascendancy in the province and to this many Turks, and particularly the richer and previously more influential ones, could not adapt. The Turks had seldom persecuted the Christians, that had been the intermittent past time of Pomak (Bulgarian Muslim), Circassian and Tatar, but the Turks have never allowed the Bulgarians social or legal equality. Now they were forced to concede their superiority and for many Turks this was too much to bear and they gratefully accepted offers of land from the Sultan and returned to the more familiar atmosphere of the Ottoman Empire.

The Turks were also encouraged to emigrate from Bulgaria by regulations against the cultivation of rice - which was originally introduced to the region by the Turks. This was part of a project to eradicate malaria that included also draining of swamps in the Tundzha, Arda, and Maritsa Basins. The project succeeded in eradicating malaria, however, it also exacerbated droughts in those regions. Rice was a staple crop for the Turks and in its prohibition many of them saw yet another sign of unacceptable Bulgarian domination. An even more important impulse to Turkish emigration was the Bulgarian land tax of 1882. By Moslem law all land was owned by God but after the abolition of feudalism in the 1830s use of that land conferred temporary wardship upon the user, and thus the tithe which had been the main levy on land until 1882 conformed to traditional Moslem codes of thought and practice. The land tax did not. Furthermore land tax applied to all land in a man's possession not, as under the tithe, merely to that part which had been cultivated. This hit the Turks hard for they customarily left large proportion, in many cases as much as half, of their land fallow. Taxation now fell on the fallow land too but production and earnings could not be increased by the same proportion and as a result many of the remaining Turkish owners of large estates left Rumelia. Significantly 1882 was the peak year for the sale of larger Turkish properties in Rumelia, though the sale of such properties continued steadily throughout the first half of the 1880s. From the end of the war to the summer of 1880 only six large Turkish chifliks in Eastern Rumelia had been sold but the five years before union with the Principality of Bulgaria in 1885 saw the sale of about a hundred. That most of the larger Turkish owners and many smaller ones left Rumelia was undoubtedly an important factor in the easy attainment of Bulgarian supremacy in Rumelia during the early 1880s.

In Principality of Bulgaria as in Rumelia the chaos of war had allowed a number of seizures to go unrecorded meaning that the new occupiers were to be left in untroubled possession of their land. The Constituent Assembly had considered a proposal to legislate such illegal transfers but no action had been taken as Karavelov had easily persuaded the Assembly that it was pointless to legislate about so widespread a phenomenon. The Bulgarians in the Principality could afford such bold stance as there was little danger of direct Ottoman intervention over the land question. There was a constant stream of emigration by Turks from Bulgaria and by the early 1890s so many Turks had left the former Turkish stronghold of north-eastern Bulgaria that the government in Sofia began to fear that the area would be seriously under-populated. In 1891 the Minister of Finance reported to the Subranie that there were 26,315 vacant plots in the country, many of them in the north-east and most of them under twenty dekars in extent.

In Bulgaria the government also took possession of Turkish land which had been vacant for three years. A number of returning Turkish refugees who demanded restitution of or compensation for their lands were denied both on the grounds that they had without duress left their property unworked for three years.


Turks in Bulgaria During Communist Rule (1945 to 1989)

The Assimilation Campaign

The “Assimilation Campaign” or as it was later officially called the “Revival Process” was implemented in several stages between 1944 – 1989. One of the main aspects of the “Revival Process” were the forced name changing episodes of the country’s Muslim population and their gradual or forced assimilation incorporating violent methods such; obliterating traditional clothing, prohibiting Muslim customs and denying the use of Turkish language. These deeds would go as far as altering Muslims names from grave stones and even changing or replacing Muslim names from Bulgarian literature.

The "Campaign" was executed in several episodes targeting first the Bulgarian speaking Muslim population the Pomaks. The first organised attempts for altering the national and religious identity and for the “incorporation” of Bulgarian speaking Muslims (Pomaks) into the majority Bulgarian domain started already before 1944. The sate-supported “Bulgarian-Mohammedan Cultural-Educational and Charitable Association - Rodina” played an instrumental role by initiating forced replacements of the traditional Muslim clothing and names with “secular” (”Bulgarian”) ones. Some of the methods used by “Rodina” where later adopted by the post 1944 Communist regime and the Pomaks were systematically targeted mainly in 1964 and 1970-1974. There are numerous examples of the brutality employed during these forced assimilation operations such as the events in March 1972 in the village of Barutin (Барутин) where police and state security forces violently crashed a demonstration against the assimilation policies of the Communist regime by the majority Muslim population killing 2 civilians and inflicting gunshot wounds on scores of others. In March 1973 in the village of Kornitsa (Корница) situated in the mountainous region of South-West Bulgaria the local Muslim population resisted the forced name changing and attempted to demonstrate against the government’s suppressive actions. As a response the Bulgarian security forces killed 5 villagers and wounded scores of civilians. By 1974, 500 of the 1,300 inmates of the notorious Belene labour camp were Pomaks who had resisted pressure to change their names.

The “Assimilation Campaign” culminated between 1984-1989 when the target became Bulgaria’s Turkish community.The zero percent annual increase in birth rate among Christian Bulgarians is the primary reason which caused the Bulgarian government to commit "a flagrant violation of human rights" by forcing 900,000 people, 10 percent of the country's population, to change their names. The people affected were all ethnic Turks. By 1984 the Roma and the Pomaks had already been forced to give up their Turkish or Muslim names for Bulgarian names. The communist government had been encouraging the educated Turks to voluntarily adopt Bulgarian names.

In June 1984, the Politbureau voted a policy named “For the further unification and inclusion of Bulgarian Turks into the cause of socialism and the policies of the Bulgarian Communist Party". The grandiose plan of the Communists was to re-name all Islamic minorities with Slavic names, band the wearing of distinctive Turkish clothing, to forbid the use of the Turkish language and close down the mosques. “The Assimilation Campaign” was sold to the ethnic Bulgarian majority as an attempt for national “revival”.

As it was later to turn out the Communist regime was misled by its own agents among the Turkish minority and taken aback when the Turkish minority refused to submit to the aims of the “Assimilation Campaign” or as it was called by the Communists the “The Revival Process”. The regime found its self in a position where they had to use violence.

American writer-reporter Robert Kaplan who visited Bulgaria in 1985 describes the forced Bulgarization of Bulgaria's Turkish minority as follows:

It usually happened in the middle of the night. The number of army half-tracks and the blinding glare of searchlights would disturb the sleep of an ethnic Turkish village. Militiamen would then burst into every home and thrust a photocopied form in front of the man of the house, in which he was to write the new Bulgarian names of every member of his family. Those who refused or hesitated, watched as their wives or daughters were raped by the militiamen. According to Amnesty International and Western diplomats, the militiamen beat up thousands and executed hundreds. Thousands more were imprisoned or driven into internal exile.

On December 24th 1984 Bulgarian police and security forces fired the first shots against the Turkish community in the village of Mlechino (Млечино). While Mlechino (Млечино) being under siege by Bulgarian security forces some 200 Turkish villagers from the smaller near by towns attempted to break the siege and protest for the return of their passports and reinstatement of their Muslim names. This pattern repeated in many areas in Bulgaria populated with Turks. People from smaller towns and villages attempted to march and enter larger towns and villages to find a government official with greater jurisdiction who would be able to explain why the Turks being targeted and when would they be able to reinstate their Muslim names and receive back their original identification documents. Often these larger towns of central administration were unreachable since they were besieged by Bulgarian security forces.
On the 25th of December 1984 close to the town of Benkovski (Бенковски) some 3000 Turkish protesters from the near by smaller villages confront Bulgarian security forces and demand to have their original identification papers back. The Bulgarian security forces manage to disperse the crowd claiming that they have no idea where their identification papers are and urge them to go back to their villages and inquire from the local mayors. The large police presence is explained with undergoing security forces “exercise manoeuvres”. After returning to their towns and discovering that the local municipality does not have their passports and ID documentation the crowd heads back, this time more decisively, towards the town of Benkovski (Бенковски) on the next day (26th of December 1984). This time the Bulgarian police and security forces are prepared and awaiting with some 500 armed men in positions. When the crowd of 2000 Turkish villagers approaches the Bulgarian security forces opened fire with automatic weapons wounding 8 people of which 3 women and killing 4. One of the killed is a 17-month old baby Türken. The killed were from the villages of Kayaloba (Каялоба), Kitna (Китна) and Mogiljane (Могиляне). Judging from the wounds of the dead and wounded the police and security force had been aiming at the mid-section of the bodies. The captured demonstrators were faced down on the snow for 2 hours and blasted with cold water coming from the fire fighting trucks. In a report by Atanas Kadirev the head of the Ministry of Interior Forces (МВР) in Kardzhali (Кърджали) it is stated “It was interesting that they were able to absorb all the water from the fire trucks in a standing position”. The temperature that day was minus 15 degrees Celsius.
On the same day the 26th of December 1984 the Turkish community in the village of Gruevo (Груево) situated in the Momchilgrad (Момчилград) county resisted the entry of security forces vehicles into the village by burning truck tires on the main road. The villagers were temporarily successful, but the security forces return later that night with reinforcements and fire fighting trucks. The electricity to the village was cut. The villagers organised at the village entrance but were blasted with water mixed with sand coming from the hoses of the fire fighting trucks. Some of the security forces opened fire directly at the villagers and several civilians were wounded and killed. The wounded from bullets attempted to seek help from hospitals but were refused medical treatment. There are reports of incarcerated Turks commiting "suicide" while held for police questioning. In demonstrations in Momchilgrad (Момчилград) at least one 16 year old youngster is shot and killed and there are reports of casualties also in Dzhebel (Джебел). According to the Bulgarian “Ministry of Interior” during these few Christmas days there have been some 11 demonstrations in which approximately 11 000 Turks participated. A large number of the arrested protesters are later sent to the “Belene labour camp” at the gates of which it is written “All Bulgarian citizens are equal under the low of the National Republic of Bulgaria”

One of the most notable confrontations between the ethnic Turk population and the Bulgarian State Security apparatus and army was in the village of Yablanovo (Ябланово) during January 1985 where the Turkish population resisted the tanks of the 3rd Bulgarian Army for 3 days. When the village was overrun by the Bulgarian Army the town hall was made a temporary Command Centre and became the scene of terrifying acts of brutality in the name of “Bulgarisation”. The torture and violation of the captured resisting Turks was later continued in the underground cellars of the Ministry of Interior (МВР) in the city of Sliven. The interrogation methods applied on the captured villagers were depicted with the torture of “Jesus Christ before his crucifixion”. Over 30 people are reported killed during the events in Yablanovo (Ябланово).
The Communist Regime’s violence did achieve its immediate aims. All Turks had been registered with Slavic names, Turkish was forbidden in public and the mosques abandoned. This however was not the end of the matter but the beginning of the revival of the Turkish identity where the oppressed minority strongly re-defined itself as Muslim and distinct. Bulgarians came to be seen as occupiers and oppressors and protest demonstrations took place in some of the bigger villages in the southern and northern Turk enclaves. Moreover, the Turkish community received the solidarity of Bulgarian intellectuals and opponents of the regime.

As a response to the Bulgarian government policies, on March 9th, 1985, an underground Turkish organisation (TNFM) was responsible for planting an explosive device on the Sofia-Burgas train. The bomb exploded on Bunovo station in a car that was specifically designated for mothers with children, killing seven people (two children) and wounding nine. Professor Yanko Yankov has suggested that the assailants of the so called “TNFM” have been associates of then Bulgarian State Security Service, thus linking the Bulgarian State Security Apparatus to the tragic events in Bunovo. In fact the ethnic Turks in Bulgaria used nonviolent ways to resist the communist oppression. The movement later called the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) was founded by intellectuals. It used civil disobedience and focused on providing information to the outside world of the physical persecution and suppression suffered by the Turks in Bulgaria. The activities of the MRF consisted of peaceful demonstrations and hunger strikes with the goal of restoring civil liberties and basic human rights. The Moslems in Bulgaria were one of the first to oppose the brutal conduct of the communist regime.

In a statement in 1987 a former Bulgarian legislator Halil İbişoğlu accused the Bulgarian government of being responsible for the deaths of more than 1,000 ethnic Turks in Bulgaria and the imprisonment of some 40,000 during the “Assimilation Campaign”.
In May 1989 there were disturbances in regions inhabited by members of the Turkish minority. In the so called “May events” of 1989 emotions reached the boiling point and tens of thousands Turkish demonstrators took to the streets in the north-eastern and south-eastern provinces. The demonstrations were violently suppressed by police and the military forces. It is estimated that up to 50 people were killed during the clashes with Bulgarian security forces. The Bulgarian government has put the death toll only at 7. On 10 May 1989 travel restrictions to foreign countries were partly lifted. Todor Zhivkov gave a speech on 29 May 1989, in which he demanded that Turkey open its borders in order to receive all "Bulgarian Muslims", who wanted to live there. There followed an exodus of over 300,000 Turks to Turkey. On 10 November 1989 Zhivkov was replaced by Petar Mladenov and by the end of that year communism fell.

These laws were removed after the change to democracy in the early months of 1990. On November 10, 1989 Bulgaria's Communist regime was overthrown. On December 29 a decision was made on the governmental level and later on, on March 1990 a law was ratified on allowing the Turks of Bulgaria to «restore» their Turkish surnames. Until the first of March of the coming year for about 600 thousand applications were received on the above mentioned issue. In the same year the institutition of the Spiritual leader of the Turks of Bulgaria, the Mufti was founded. In 1991 the new Constitution was adopted granting the citizens of non-Bulgarian origin a wide range of rights, lifting the legislative ban of teaching Turkish. In January of the same year another law was adopted allowing the Turks to change their names or «strike out» their Slavonic endings like «ov», «ova», «ev», «eva» within three years. Many have now reverted to their old names and Bulgarian governments have apologised to the Turkish minority for the policies. Some developments noted by the US Department of State 2000 report include the fact that Turkish-language classes funded by the government continued, and that on 2 October 2000 Bulgarian national television launched Turkish-language newscasts.

Since 1992, the Turkish language teachers of Bulgaria have been trained in Turkey. At the initial stage only the textbooks published in Turkey were used for teaching Turkish, later on, in 1996, Bulgaria's Ministry of Education and Science began publishing the manuals of the Turkish language. A number of newspapers and magazines are published: the «Müslümanlar» («Muslims»), «Hak ve Özgürlük» («Right and freedom»), «Güven» («Trust»), «Jır-Jır» («Cricket», a magazine for children), «Islam kültürü» («Islamic culture»), «Balon», «Filiz». In Turkey summer holidays for the Turkish children living in Bulgaria are organized. During the holidays the children are thought the Koran, Turkish literature, Turkish history and language.


Turks in Post-Communist Bulgaria

Collapse of Zhivkov regime and civil liberties given to Turks
As in other parts of Eastern Europe, the repeal of single-party rule in Bulgaria exposed the long-standing grievances of an ethnic minority. Especially in the 1980s, the Zhivkov regime had systematically persecuted the Turkish population, which at one time numbered 1.5 million and was estimated at 1.25 million in 1991. Mosques were closed, Turks were forced to Slavicize their names, education in the native language was denied, and police brutality was used to discourage resistance. The urban intelligentsia that participated in the 1990 reform movement pushed the post-Zhivkov governments toward restoring constitutionally guaranteed human rights to the Turks. But abrogation of Zhivkov's assimilation program soon after his fall brought massive protests by ethnic Bulgarians, even in Sofia.

In January 1990, the Social Council of Citizens, a national body representing all political and ethnic groups, reached a compromise that guaranteed the Turks freedom of religion, choice of names, and unimpeded practice of cultural traditions and use of Turkish within the community. In turn the Bulgarian nationalists were promised that Bulgarian would remain the official language and that no movement for autonomy or separatism would be tolerated. Especially in areas where Turks outnumbered Bulgarians, the latter feared progressive "Islamification" or even invasion and annexation by Turkey--a fear that had been fed consciously by the Zhivkov assimilation campaign and was revived by the BSP in 1991. Because radical elements of the Turkish population did advocate separatism, however, the non-annexation provision of the compromise was vital.

The Bulgarian governments that followed Zhivkov tried to realize the conditions of the compromise as quickly as possible. In the multiparty election of 1990, the Turks won representation in the National Assembly by twenty-three candidates of the predominantly Turkish MRF (The Movement for Rights and Freedoms. At that point, ethnic Bulgarians, many remaining from the Zhivkov regime, still held nearly all top jobs in government and industry, even in the predominantly Turkish Kurdzhali Province. Nevertheless, parts of Bulgarian society felt threatened by the rise of the MRF. In 1990 that faction collided with a hard-line Bulgarian group, the National Committee for Defense of National Interests--an organization containing many former communists instrumental in the Zhivkov assimilation program. In November 1990, Bulgarian nationalists agitated about establishing the Razgrad Bulgarian Republic  in a heavily Turkish region to protest the government's program of restoring rights to the Turks. In the first half of 1991, intermittent violence and demonstrations were directed at both Turks and Bulgarians in Razgrad.

These conditions forced the government to find a balance between Turkish demands and demonstrations for full recognition of their culture and language, and Bulgarian nationalist complaints against preferential treatment for the ethnic minority. In 1991 the most important issue of the controversy was restoring Turkish language teaching in the schools of Turkish ethnic districts. In 1991 the Popov government took initial steps in this direction, but long delays brought massive Turkish protests, especially in Kurdzhali. In mid-1991 continuing strikes and protests on both sides of the issue had brought no new discussions of compromise. Frustration with unmet promises encouraged Turkish separatists in both Bulgaria and Turkey, which in turn fueled the ethnocentric fears of the Bulgarian majority-- and the entire issue diverted valuable energy from the national reform effort.


The Movement for Rights and Freedoms
With 120,000 members, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) was the fourth largest political organization in Bulgaria in 1991, but it occupied a special place in the political process. The leader of the movement, Ahmed Dogan, was imprisoned in 1986 for opposition to the Zhivkov policy of assimilating ethnic Turks. Founded in 1990 to represent the interests of the Turkish ethnic minority, the MRF gained twenty three seats in the first parliamentary election that year, giving it the fourth-largest parliamentary voting bloc. Its agenda precluded mass media coverage or building coalitions with other parties, because of the strong anti-Turkish element in Bulgaria's political culture. By mid-1991, the UDF had held only one joint demonstration with the MRF; their failure to reconcile differences was considered a major weakness in the opposition to the majority BSP. In early 1990, the MRF protested vigorously but unsuccessfully its exclusion from national round table discussions among the major Bulgarian parties.

In 1991 the MRF broadened its platform to embrace all issues of civil rights in Bulgaria, aiming "to contribute to the unity of the Bulgarian people and to the full and unequivocal compliance with the rights and freedoms of mankind and of all ethnic, religious, and cultural communities in Bulgaria." The MRF took this step partly to avoid the constitutional prohibition of political parties based on ethnic or religious groups. The group's specific goals were ensuring that the new constitution protect ethnic minorities adequately; introducing Turkish as an optional school subject; and bringing to trial the leaders of the assimilation campaign in the 1980s. To calm Bulgarian nationalist resentment, the MRF categorically renounced Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism, and ambitions for autonomy within Bulgaria. Political overtures were made regularly to the UDF, and some local cooperation occurred in 1991. Although the MRF remained the fastest growing party in Bulgaria, however, the sensitivity of the Turkish issue caused official UDF policy to keep the MRF in isolation.


Participation in Bulgarian politics
The Bulgarian Turks take part in the country's political life. Back in the end of 1984 an underground organization called «National Liberation Movement of the Turks in Bulgaria» was formed in Bulgaria which headed the Turkish community's antigovernmental movement. On January 4, 1990 the activists of the movement registered an organization with the legal name «Movement for Rights and Freedom» (MRF) (in Bulgarian: Движение за права и свободи: in Turkish: Hak ve Özgürlükler Hareketi) in the Bulgarian city of Varna. At the moment of registration it had 33 members, at present, according to the organization's website, 68 thousand members plus 24 thousand in the organization's youth wing. As a result of elections held in 2001 and 2005, the MRF was included in the coalition government. At the parliamentary elections held on June 17, 2001, the MRF got 21 deputy mandates by 7.45% of votes. In the parliament, there was also an independent Turkish deputy, Osman Ahmed Oktay. The Turkish party formed a coalition government in a non-Turkic country. Mehmet Dikmen, Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment represented the MRF. Filiz Huseynova, presently working at the European Parliament, held the post of the State Minister for minorities. Earlier she was the Deputy Mayor on humanitarian issues in her native town Silistra; she was appointed Minister on July 17, 2003. On June 25, 2005 the parliamentary elections were held. The party's success was very impressive: it won 14.07% of the votes, 34 MRF members entered the parliament; two of them were Bulgarians. A new coalition was formed which at this time consisted of three parties: the Bulgarian Socialist Party, «National Movement of Simeon II» and the MRF. In the budget of 2008, MRF directed a large parts of the subsidies for agriculture to tobacco growers (which are predominantly Turks, Pomaks, and Romani) leaving staple crops, like wheat, without subsidies for buying the seed for sowing. This evoked protests by farmers in the regions of Vratsa, Knezha, and Dobrudzha. During the May 2007 Bulgarian European Parliament elections the Movement for Rights and Freedom (MRF) gained 20,26% of the vote and currently has 3 MEPs in the European Parliament.


Distribution of Turkish dialects in Bulgaria

There are two main dialects; the first one is spoken in every area in south-east Bulgaria and is also used in the neighbouring countries (Greece and Turkey). It can be identified from the second one by looking at the "present continuous time"; it has the suffix forms -yirin, -yisin, -yiri. In formal Turkish they are -yorum, -yorsun, -yor. In the second dialect, used near Kurdzhali, the forms are; -værin, -væsin, -væri.

Notable Turks in Bulgaria
Vezhdi Rashidov - Sculptor
Ahmed Doğan - Human rights activist and politician, leader of Movement for Rights and Freedoms.
Emel Etem Toshkova - Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria.
Nihat Kabil - Minister of Agriculture of Bulgaria
Dzhevdet Chakarov (Cevdet Çakarov) - Minister of the Environment of Bulgaria
Yuksel Kadriev - Popular news reporter of the Bulgarian TV
Yıldız İbrahimova - Jazz Singer
Silviya Katsarova (Silver Nuri) - Pop Singer
Tchetin Kazak (Çetin Kazak) - Politician, Member of the European Parliament
Filiz Husmenova (Filiz Hüsmenova) - Politician, Member of the European Parliament
Nedzhmi Ali (Necmi Ali) - Politician, Member of the European Parliament
Ivailo Marinov (Ismail Mustafov) - World and Olympic medalist in boxing.
Salim Salimov - Boxer
Mehmed Fikretov 2008 European Weightlifting Championships bronze medallist
Husein Mehmedov (Hüseyin Mehmedov) - Olympic medalist in wrestling
Naim Süleymanoğlu - World and Olympic champion in weightlifting.
Halil Mutlu - World and Olympic champion in weightlifting.
Nejdet Zalev - Olympic medalist in wrestling
Said Chifudov - Olympic medalist in wrestling
Lyutvi Ahmedov (Lütfü Ahmedov) - Olympic medalist in wrestling
Osman Duraliev - Olympic medalist in wrestling
Hasan Isaev - Olympic medalist in wrestling
Nermedin Selimov - Olympic medalist in wrestling
Ismail Abilov - Olympic medalist in wrestling
Osman Nuri Peremeci – Intellectual and historian
Mehmed Talat Paşa - Minister and in 1917 Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire.
Ömer Fahreddin Paşa - Commander of the Ottoman Army and Governor of Medina.
Ahmed Cevdet Paşa - Famous Ottoman statesman, historian, and lawmaker.


  Islamic Centers and Organizations

Al Noor Foundation, Sofia

Al Markaz (Dawa-e-Tabligh), Plovdiv, Tripol
Phone: 359-2-233-109
Muftiate of Aitos, Aitos, Bulgaria
Phone: (00359 558) 63-64
meriyam foundation, Sofia, Bulgaria
Banya Bashi Mosque, Sofia, Sofia
TOMBUL Mosques, Shumen
THE MUFTI HEAD OFFICE (DAR AL-IFTA), Sofia, SOFIA
URL: www.genmufti.net   Phone: 0035929816001
Muftiate of Gotse Delchev, Gotse Delchev, Gotse DElchev

   Muftiate of Gotse Delchev, Gotse Delchev
  Al Markaz (Dawa-e-Tabligh), Plovdiv
  Banya Bashi Mosque, Sofia
  Mosques and Muslim - 2, Ribnowo
  Muftiate of Aitos, Aitos
  Sultan Bayezid, Kochan
 
THE MUFTI HEAD OFFICE (DAR AL-IFTA), Sofia

   High Islamic Institute, Sofia

   Muslim Owned Business

Muslim shops, Sofia
NAZHARA LTD, Sofia
المطعم التركي, Varna

References
Islam in Bulgaria ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Bulgaria   , October, 2008).
Info please ( http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107365.html  ,  October, 2008).
Islam Finder ( http://www.islamicfinder.org/cityPrayerNew.php?country=bulgaria   , October, 2008).
Muslim Bulgarians  ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_Bulgarians , October, 2008).
Anonymous, Documents from Representatives of Islamic Organizations in Bulgaria, October 2008.