Bulgarian Turks face severe identity problems

Today nearly one million Turks live in Bulgaria.

Bulgarian Turks face severe identity problems

A prominent researcher and writer in Bulgaria pointed at the internal and external migration as one of the main phenomenon threatening Turkish identity in Bulgaria.

Ibrahim Yalimov, a Turkish Bulgarian who devoted his life to research on Turkish identity in Bulgaria said, “Migration to the city poses a threat to Turkish identity. The second and third generation of immigrants are forgetting their identity and religion.”

Today nearly one million Turks live in Bulgaria.

Born in Shumnu, Yalimov started to work in the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in the 1970’s. After 20 years, he resigned from this institution and continued to work in Institute of Islamic Studies. Yalimov served as the rector of the institute for two terms.

His main area of research is the history of Bulgarian Turks and has generated numerous academic works on this topic. His works are collected in a book called “The History of Turkish Community in Bulgaria”. One of the few books written on this topic, Yalimov’s book sheds light on many issues troubling Turks living in Bulgaria.

Commenting on his book, Yalimov said “The book offers a comprehensive approach to history. It explains the establishment of the Turkish community, its development and its transformation to a minority.”

The last book Yalimov published, titled “The ethnic, cultural and religious identity of the Bulgarian Turkish community,” gives place to the topic of education in the mother tongue, a recent hot topic in Bulgaria.

Ibrahim Yalimov has complained of the ignorance and indifference of Bulgarian Turks to their ethnic identity, noting “Most of our people’s interest in their identity has lessened. Migration poses a great challenge against identity as Bulgarian Turks move out of the country. Furthermore, Bulgarian Turks who migrated from villages to the city have gradually cut their relations with their identity and religion.”

Journalist and writer Yalimov commented on another problem of the Turkish minority in Bulgaria, that being the possessions of religious foundations. During the totalitarian regime in Bulgaria, several foundation lands and buildings were nationalized and today the Mufti of Bulgaria has made immense effort to get them back. However, Yalimov added “It is really difficult to do this.”

Yalimov’s latest book which is about to be published is called “Minority Rights and Freedoms in Bulgaria.” He explained “My book focuses on the mother tongue problem. In the past, 110,000 children were educated in Turkish. However, today only 9,000 children take courses given in Turkish. This means merely 10 per cent of Turkish children in Bulgaria can learn Turkish in schools.”

Having authored many articles and conducted several researchers to date, Yalimov has penned influential books such as Kemalism’s reflection in Bulgaria, Islam and Democracy.



Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Ağustos 2014, 15:06