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Balkan Journal of Philosophy

Volume 4, Issue 2, 2012

Bogdana Todorova
Pages 227-238

The “Bulgarian Mohammedans” (Pomaks) in the East and Central Rhodopes: the problem of identity

Speculations about Islam, Islamization and Fundamentalism proceed from the deficit of a serious historic study on the origin and activity of the Bulgarian Muslims (the Pomaks), which is due to both the politicization and ideologization of this theme through many centuries, and various national and chauvinistic interests. From the beginning of the 1890's and especially in the 1920’s and 1930's, the continuous campaign in the press encourages public opinion to differentiate religious affiliation from ethnic affiliation and to accept the Pomaks as the part of the Bulgarian nation. In the 1960’s, there is a growing pressure to integrate the “Bulgarian Muslims” (the Pomaks) into the community of the ethnic Turks at the same time that the ethnic Turks use the privileges of communism, of which they were gradually deprived later. Twenty years after the change, the state continues to abdicate its responsibilities for this clearly Bulgarian compact mass of the population, whose mother tongue is Bulgarian. The state does not pay attention to the poor, to education, to the large unemployment rate, the lack of investments in these regions, the lack of infrastructure, the discovery of the adequate and transparent way of financing the religious education of these people, or to their need to participate actively in the processes of building civil society.

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