‘Annotated Legal Documents on Islam in Europe: Bulgaria,’ By Orlin Avramov
Citing the need for increased awareness of the legal status of Muslims in Europe following heightened restrictions applied toward Islamic practices by western European countries (Switzerland’s 2009 minaret ban being one example), publisher Brill has embarked upon a multi-volume series detailing legislation regarding Islam in EU member states (Norway and Switzerland are also included).
The third volume of the “Annotated Legal Documents on Islam in Europe” series covers Bulgaria, the relevant legislation of which was assembled by minority rights specialist Orlin Avramov. The legal status of Muslims in Bulgaria should be of at least passing interest to anyone with a Turkey-centric focus because the Muslim population of the country -- which forms 8 percent of the total population -- is overwhelmingly composed of ethnic Turks, who constitute the country’s largest minority group. Islam first arrived in Bulgaria in the 14th century when the Ottomans conquered Sofia and quintessential Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan built a mosque in that city in the 16th century.
The southern province of Kardzhali has a majority ethnic Turkish population and Islam possesses a visible presence in the country’s major cities. That presence was interpreted as a threat during communist rule, and the government forced out hundreds of thousands of Turks in 1989 amid an assimilation program where speaking Turkish was forbidden in public, though many later returned to the land their ancestors had called home for centuries. Today, the ethnic Turkish community in the country’s second city Plovdiv can be seen filling a mosque in the center of the city during Friday prayers.
This volume provides a comprehensive look at the legislation pertaining to religion in the country, which opts for a nondiscriminatory approach to religious freedom save for the privileged position the Bulgarian Orthodox Church occupies in the constitution.
Chapters on topics ranging from state funding of religious communities to Islamic practices are covered in the volume, which also includes the original Bulgarian text of the relevant laws. This takes up approximately half of this slim 94-page book, which retails for a steep $84 on the Brill website, unfortunately limiting the reach of this series to serious researchers.
THE LEGAL STATUS OF MUSLIMS IN BULGARIA SHOULD BE OF AT LEAST PASSING INTEREST TO ANYONE WITH A TURKEYCENTRIC FOCUS
Muslims pray during Friday noon prayers in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Annotated Legal Documents on Islam
in Europe: Bulgaria (Leiden: Brill, 2014),
94 pp. ISBN: 9789004277564