‘An­no­tated Le­gal Doc­u­ments on Is­lam in Europe: Bul­garia,’ By Or­lin Avramov

Turkish Review - - CONTENTS - PAUL BENJAMIN OSTER­LUND

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

MAY 27, 2011 PHOTO: AP, VALENTINA PETROVA

Mus­lims pray dur­ing Fri­day noon prayers in Sofia, Bul­garia.

Or­lin Avramov,

An­no­tated Le­gal Doc­u­ments on Is­lam

in Europe: Bul­garia (Lei­den: Brill, 2014),

94 pp. ISBN: 9789004277564

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