Author Topic: Pomaks - History of the Slavic people of the Muslim faith  (Read 13383 times)

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Offline Тоска

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Slavic Muslim representation in the Balkans is not confined to the Bosnians, so loudly had become in the early 90’s. last century. For several centuries the territory of Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey inhabits the other Slavic peoples of Muslim faith, calling themselves ahryane and outside the society known as Pomaks. Modern Pomaks live mostly in southern and south-eastern Bulgaria – mainly in the Rhodope Mountains, south of Plovdiv, and in Pirinski Macedonia. A large number of Pomaks live in the neighboring regions of Greece, especially in the rooms of Xanthi (Western Thrace). Most of the communities in Turkey, assimilated, no longer slave language and cultural backgrounds, and joined in the Turkish ethnic group.

As a Muslim, Pomaks preserved slave language (which experts consider a model of “pure” Bulgarian), culture and traditions.

The origin of this ethnic community, as well as its history of relatively early (before mid 19 th century) is poorly understood.

In fact, each country has its own accommodation Pomaks “easy” concept of their origin.

So, according to Bulgarian historians Pomaks – it Islamicize Bulgarians have kept the Bulgarian culture in its purest form. This conclusion is based on the similarity of the Bulgarian language and dialects used by Pomaks. Proponents of this view believe that the word “Pomaks comes from Turkish” pomogats – Assistant or Bulgarian “pomohamedantsy” – that is Islamicize. The name “ahryane” is interpreted as derived from the Bulgarian “agaryane” – that is incorrect or later – Muslim. This concept is considered the most reliable, and it is in accordance with the modern science includes Pomaks to Slavs.

More original point of view of Greek authors, who believe that people descended from the ancient Thracian tribes who inhabited data area. Based on this theory, they note “vital” affinity Pomaks with the Greeks, which, however, does not have any serious evidence.

Turkish scholars, in turn focus religious community Pomaks Turks, linking it with the common origin. In their version, Pomaks – descendants of Turkic tribes settled Thrace before the Ottoman conquest – Accidents and Pechenegs. The name “ahryane” Turks feel derived from the Arabic “Ahi” – a brother.

The first question of the origin of Pomaks was raised in 1762 Paisii Hilendarskim in his “History of slavyanobolgarskoy”.

Forced Islamization or “baptism” dead

It is believed that Islamization Pomaks started with Sultan Bayazide, the 70-ies. fourteenth century.

Bulgarian historiography traditionally puts forward the thesis of its violent nature. For example, one of the most famous Bulgarian historian Nikolai Todorov shows that two waves of forced Islamization – when Sultan Selim II – in the 16 st century, and Mehmet Fourth – at the end of the 17 th. However, this concept does not stand up to serious scientific criticism – firstly, the main source Todorova was some Bulgarian chronicle of the 18 th century, which he himself had not even been able to quote in his study. The second source, which is based on the concept, is a chronicle of the Bulgarian priest Draganov, written, according to Todorova, ‘a little after the events referred to. ” At the same time, scientists have recognized that the original Chronicle was lost, and it is available only in the compilation of Stephen Zahareva. For now, however, proved that this – fake, what came almost all the major European specialists on the history of the Ottoman empire and Bulgaria.

However, the Bulgarian scientists, especially during the rule of the Communists, were so are the desire to prove his “point” that does not hesitate to open frauds. For example, in the 1980’s the city of Smolyan History Museum organized archaeological expedition to find the graves of the villages in pomakskih Christians who supposedly chose to die conversion to Islam. When they were not found, the head of the expedition ordered to put crosses in the Muslim graves in the “proof” that “initially they were Christian.” This information was provided by the village mayor pomakskogo Smilyan, historian Boryanoy Panayotov.

Attempts statehood

As a Muslim, Pomaks serve as a reliable pillar of Turkish domination in the Balkans. They provide the finest soldiers the Sultan, and even gifted pashey, participated in the repression of the Greek insurrection in 1821, supported by Turkey during the recent uprising of the Bulgarian and Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878. Pomaks are not even subject to some time to the Berlin Congress, the associated part of the territory they live in Eastern Rumeli and expressed loyalty to Turkey during the Greco-Turkish war in 1897

In 1878 Pomaks fought for autonomy for the ethnic community, which is de facto and there in the next few years, in twenty communities in the Rhodope Mountains.

In 1913, after departing from pomakskih territories Bulgarian and Turkish armies (during the Balkan wars), there was formed Gyumyurdzhinskaya republic existed, however, only a few months. However, during this time Pomaks those who were forcibly converted to Christianity by Bulgarian troops again returned to the true faith.

After the First World War, in 1918, 8 pomakskih Bulgarian parliament deputies were forced to appeal to the leaders of Greece and France to protect of their ethnic and religious minority from the forced Christianization.

Actually, if the question of whether Islamicize ahryane force, modern science tends to give a negative answer, then attempted forcible Christianization recorded clearly and indisputably.

Forcible Christianization

All of these “campaigns” were four – in 1912, 1938 – 1944, 1962 – 1964, 1971 – 1972 biennium. and all of them were Bulgarian Government. The most brutal and blatant was the last attempt to “integrate” Pomaks. Help was called upon the army, military police, special services, territorial formation. And all this – with a rather innocuous at first glance, the goal – to change Turkish names to Bulgarian ahryan.

But in fact it was a real attempt, perhaps, one of the last organized campaigns of its kind in the world, forced to draw the entire nation to Christianity.

But, despite everything, Pomaks not broken. Is still unknown how many were killed and tortured for refusing to change Muslim names to Christian. In addition, several hundred people were sent to the infamous prison in Belém do Pará island on the Danube.

However, in 1989, together with the collapse of socialist governments, there fell, and that the planned “modern inquisitor.” Virtually the entire population with the change of name changed to the old.

Now Pomaks is one of three Muslim nations of Bulgaria, two others – Muslims, Gypsies and Turks. In recent years, emerging trends to increase the influence of the Slavic community is among the Bulgarian Muslim Ummah.

Pomaks in Greece

On the territory of Greece are far less Pomaks than in Bulgaria – only about 30 thousand people, while the overall strength of the ethnic community – 500 thousand people. Their residence in Greek Thrace was enshrined the Lausanne Treaty. Pomaks not want, like a huge number of ethnic Turks to go to Turkey because they were irreconcilable enemies sekulyaristskogo kemalistskogo regime. In many ways their situation affected the victory of Communists in Bulgaria in 1944. The point is that in Greece Pomaks soon became seen as potential supporters of the Bulgarian Communists. Therefore, policies on them was carried out on two vectors.

First – isolation pomakskih settlements. Up until the early 90’s, entry to and exit from there only on special permission of local administration.

The second – the desire to merge with the Slavic Muslim Turks. In fact, in Greece at the state level was found to only one ethnic and religious minorities – Turks. In it, except Pomaks, “joined” Gypsies, Muslims and black Muslims in a very small number of residents in Greece.

Pomaks have been isolated not only from all sides (including from their Bulgarian brothers, as well as the border with the socialist camp had been “at the Castle”), but also deprived of education and even raise children in their mother tongue. They had to send their children to Turkish schools and, sometimes, because of their lack of – and in Turkey itself. Subsequently, among Pomaks a sufficiently large number of supporters of a merger with the Turks, the perception of culture and language of the past.

Some mitigation of the situation of Greek Pomaks can be observed only in recent years due to liberalization of the political regime , end the cold war and the collapse of the socialist camp. In 1994, for the Slavic Muslim countries have been partially lifted restrictions on movement, as in the 1995-m – opened the Greek-Bulgarian border.

Pomaks in Turkey

Turkey Pomaks traditionally inhabited the area around Edirne, and some villages up to the Istanbul, finding themselves in the Turkish area, quickly assimilated and became part of Turkish ethnicity. Generally, pomakskie roots are about 300 thousands of modern Turkish. At the same time in 1965, according to the census of the Turkish, Bulgarian possessed only about 27 thousand inhabitants. At present, this number and is close to zero.

History Pomaks eloquently shows that the Slavs are not only able to accept the Muslim religion, but on the basis of religious community form a common ethnicity. Thus, we can safely conclude that the Bosnian case in this regard is not isolated and therefore exclusive. Living in a much more complex than the Bosnians, and, unlike them, not the creation of their own statehood, Pomaks demonstrated incredible force of faith, Pronya to Islam through all the tests, harassment adversaries, and struggling to regain its natural and inalienable rights – civil and religious.

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Offline Observer

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Re: Pomaks - History of the Slavic people of the Muslim faith
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2009, 18:28 »
Обаче усилията и погледите на Метка, Мустафа и сие, са насочени само против България..щото виж какво пише - "Помаците в Турция "куикли" (бързо) биват асимилирани като турци"...Продължавайте в същия дух клоуни..

Offline Metka

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Re: Pomaks - History of the Slavic people of the Muslim faith
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2009, 18:46 »
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Обаче усилията и погледите на Метка, Мустафа и сие, са насочени само против България..щото виж какво пише - "Помаците в Турция "куикли" (бързо) биват асимилирани като турци"...Продължавайте в същия дух клоуни..

For the past century, Muslims in the Balkans are the victims of many episodes of ethnic cleansing by the crusaders and later by the Communists in Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria and Greece. As Communism collapsed, the Muslims in Eastern Europe are still facing suppression, discrimination, harassment and intolerance.

In this context, we will highlight the sufferings of one million Muslim Bulgarians who are uprooted and forced to flee from their country before giving up their property. Despite all this, Islam's presence in Europe is likely to grow and to bring about social, economic and political changes.

Historical Dimension:

The Balkan Peninsula has strategic geographic position, controlling the access to the Silk Road, the ancient trade route linking China and imperial Rome. Therefore, it was a battlefield for the competing superpowers since medieval times. The region that is now Bulgaria was at one time included in the Roman Empire.

Muslims managed to gain footholds throughout the Balkans since the Abbasid era in the 9th century. By 1396, the armies of the Ottoman Empire controlled all of Bulgaria. During the next five centuries the Islamic culture dominated in Bulgaria. The presence of Muslims in the Balkan Peninsula at that time was so great when thousands of Turkish Muslims had immigrated and settled in Western Anatolia.

The Christian kingdoms in Western Europe launched many crusades to take over Jerusalem passing through the Balkan Peninsula. On their way they had exterminated the Muslims living there. In 1878, coinciding with the expansion of Great Serbia, Muslims in Bulgaria were the expelled and a killing spree took place with Russian backing.

After the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, Muslims in the Balkans have been severely persecuted. By the end of the First World War, the Bulgarian nationalists continued the hostile policies of the Serbs by destroying schools and mosques in the Muslim areas. Muslims are told: 'Become Christians if you wish to remain in Europe.'

Who Are the Bulgarian Muslims?

Muslims in Bulgaria belong to various ethnic groups, such as the Turks, Pomaks, Gypsies and Tatars. The Pomaks are the main Muslim ethnic group in Bulgaria. There are many contradicting views, regarding the origin of Pomaks. According to some historians, they are the descendants of the ancient Slavic or Slavized inhabitants of the Balkans. Some of them converted to Islam at the time of the conquest and during the years that followed. Other groups converted to Islam during the period of the Ottoman Caliphate.

The number of Pomak population changed several times due to the suppression policy by the Christian and communist governments. During and after the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, the biggest waves of Pomak migrated to Turkey.

Bulgaria's population is approximately 7.9 million according to a 2001 census. Approximately 13 percent of the Bulgarians are Muslims.

Bulgarization of the Muslims:

Since the Bulgarian independence in 1908, the nationalist regimes marginalized the Muslims and traditionally considered them as foreigners, even if they were ethnically Bulgarian. The Orthodox Church is very influential and with the help of the Bulgarian nationalists they forced the Muslims to convert to Christianity. All the resisting Muslims were wounded, imprisoned, killed or deported. Thousands of them fled to Turkey and Greece. In the summer of 1989 more than 300,000 Muslims were deported from Bulgaria.
Mosques were converted into churches. Out of the 44 mosques in Sofia only one remained as a historical monument. The largest mosque in Bulgaria was the Tumbul Mosque in Shumen, built in 1744. Muslims were coerced to go to church every Sunday. Circumcision was prohibited, and the people who circumcised their sons were severely punished.

There are pressures on Muslims to change their names, vestment and language. Since 1942 a new law was passed which commanded Muslims to change their names to Bulgarian ones. About 2000 Turkish and Pomak village names were also changed to Bulgarian. Pomaks were banned from attending Turkish schools or use the Turkish language and they were forbidden to open private schools. Then Muslim school boards were abolished and unified with Bulgarian school boards. Thus all their non-Bulgarian daily life was subjected to censure.

In 1944, the Communist regime came into power and launched the assimilation campaigns against the Muslims. Pomak villages from the Rhodopes region were forced to resettle in Northern Bulgaria during 1948-1952. In 1949, the agricultural lands were expropriated affecting many Bulgarian Muslims. For more than 40 years the Bulgarian government promoted atheism. Muslims were treated as second-class citizens with no rights to become members of the government or officers.

In April 1956, the Bulgarian Communist Party decided to create a unified socialist Bulgarian republic. Further they proceeded in changing the names of Muslims to Bulgarians by terror. Pomaks have developed a strategy to `compromise name and behaviour'. A Pomak, who was born before 1912 and lived until after 1990, has been forced to change his Muslim name nine times for instance.
During most of the Communist period, under the leadership of Todor Zhivkov-secretary of the Communist Party from 1954, the country's premier from 1964 to 1971 and head of state from 1971 to late 1989-the policy of forceful assimilation continued under the so-called `Process of Rebirth'. After their 'success' with the Pomaks, the Bulgarian authorities started to work in the same way on the other ethnic Muslims. Therefore, in practice Communism is equivalent to Bulgarian extreme nationalism which aims to Bulgarize the significant Muslim minorities.

Post Communist Era:

With the fall of the racist regime of Todor Zhivkov in November 1989, the religious restrictions in Bulgaria were loosened somewhat. But still there is discrimination, harassment, and general public intolerance of non-Christian Orthodox religious groups.
In each Bulgarian village there are still some former Communist Party members or local security forces that had persecuted the Muslim in the past. Therefore, Muslims are still afraid to speak about their harsh experiences. They still feel threatened by the Socialist Party (former Communist Party) members, fearing that one day Communists will be in power again and then they will be persecuted again.

It is still impossible to find a single Muslim in the Bulgarian army as a regular soldier. Most of the Muslim Bulgars are uneducated and work as laborers, shepherds, haymakers and the like. Muslims are discriminated against in jobs and education. While the Pomaks want their children to learn Turkish, which is now theoretically possible, in practice local education directors don't allow them to do so.

Inequalities still exist in practice and those who are dissatisfied with their poor conditions continue to migrate to Turkey. Rumors and aggressive propaganda against Muslims as terrorists continue to receive large-scale media coverage. The Government still restricts the religious freedom of non-Christian Orthodox religious groups. These restrictions are manifested primarily in a registration process that is selective, slow, and nontransparent. The Government prohibits the public practice of religion by groups that are not registered.

However, after 1987, Bulgarian Muslims are allowed to reconstruct their mosques and new mosques are built in many cities and villages. Now there are about 1,267 mosques. The Muslim hierarchy was headed by one chief mufti and eight regional muftis who interpret Muslim law.

The study of the Quran had been completely forbidden under Zhivkov and now Quran classes are organized. Muslims also began publishing their own newspaper, Miusiulmani, in both Bulgarian and Turkish.

Offline Kaplan

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Re: Pomaks - History of the Slavic people of the Muslim faith
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2010, 20:40 »
                                 The Pomaks

Pomaks are those whose mother tongue is Pomakika (name in Greek -РпмЬкпй)/ Pomakci (name in their language); most linguists call that language Pomak and, sometimes, Bulgarian. The Pomak language belongs to the linguistic family of the Southern Slavic languages, and, within them, to the linguistic group of Bulgaro-Macedonian. There is no information on Pomak dialects. Although there is no written tradition, the appropriate alphabet to write the language is the Cyrillic. It is generally believed that Pomak is one of the various Bulgaro-Macedonian dialects which existed in the Southern Balkans before the emergence of modern nation-states and their corresponding literary languages.

Pomaks live in the three departments of Western Thrace: they are the main component of the Muslim (in fact today Turkish) minority in Xanthi. There have not been any official statistics since 1951 (and the preceding statistical data are not very trustworthy). The best estimate for the Pomaks today is a figure around 30,000. The Greek state gives an estimate of 35,000 (COMS, 1994); so do authors ‘acceptable’ to the Greek state: Hidiroglou (1991:45) and Notaras (1994:47). The 30,000 estimate is based on a Greek Helsinki Monitor/Minority Rights Group-Greece detailed estimation, on the basis of the census data and the synthesis of the minority communities as provided by both the Greek authorities and local minority sources. It is also the estimate of Nakratzas (1988:131) and De Jong (1994). Seyppel (1989:42) gives an estimate of 20,000-30,000.

Pomaks, along with Turks and Muslim Roma living in Thrace, are officially recognized as a religious Muslim minority, in accordance with the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) and formally enjoy the corresponding rights, though they have been treated as Turkish and not Pomak speakers by the authorities. So, there is no teaching of their language, despite the Treaty of Lausanne’s guarantee of education in the Muslims’ own language; this deficiency is admitted even by the official Greek authorities (COMS, 1994). Likewise, there is no teaching in Pomak, but it is sometimes used by teachers to explain some things orally to kindergarten and primary school pupils. If required, Pomak may be used in courts and interpreters will be provided, as this is guaranteed by the Treaty of Lausanne: nevertheless, Pomaks use Turkish in such occasions.

Western Thrace was first incorporated into Greece after World War I; its definite inclusion was the result of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923). The latter also called for an exchange of population between Greece and Turkey: all Muslims of Greece were to resettle in Turkey and all Orthodox of Turkey were to resettle in Greece. There were two exceptions: Muslims could stay in Thrace and Greeks in Istanbul (Constantinople in Greek), Gokceada (Imvros) and Bozcaada (Tenedos). The Muslims of Thrace were officially recognized as a minority, and had the rights to education in their own languages and to religious freedom. The Pomaks were officially recognized, therefore, as one component of the Muslim minority. Since 1951, Pomaks have been able to attend either Greek schools or Turkish schools. There have never been any Pomak schools, as, for the Greek state, Pomak is a language without a written form (COMS, 1994). Moreover, in the 1950s and 1960s, all minority schools and institutions were officially and compulsorily called Turkish rather than Muslim; the opposite went into effect in the late 1960s, under the junta, and has persisted ever since.

Pomaks are Muslims and their religious services are held in Arabic. Moreover, some distinct Pomak festivals in the Rodopi and Evros departments have been reported (COMS, 1994).

History of the community and the language

The historical origins of the Pomaks or Achrjani (as they also used to call themselves) are obscure (De Jong (1980:95); moreover, very little is known about their evolution, even as recently as in the XIX century. This ignorance therefore provides a fertile ground for another controversy in the Balkans. As Bulgarians, Greeks and Turks all claim that Pomaks are a component of their respective nations or simply want to assimilate them (Sarides, 1987), they provide different ‘national histories’ (or perhaps ‘national fictions’) which usually ‘devaluate or ignore “disturbing” facts’ (Seyppel, 1989:43 & 48).

Greek authors consider Pomaks to be the descendants of ancient Thracian tribes which were in turn Hellenized, Latinized, Slavized, Christianized and finally Islamized. Those of them who stayed in the mountains succeeded in remaining ‘pure’ descendants of these ancient tribes and they have many Greek, if not Homeric, words in their vocabulary. Greeks even use anthropometric and ‘blood-group’ research to prove that Pomaks are very different from Turks and are similar to Greeks (Seyppel, 1989:42; Sarides, 1987 and references therein; Hidiroglou, 1991 and references therein). For Greeks, Pomak is a derivative of the Ancient Greek word ‘Pomax’ (‘drinker’) which reflects the Thracians’ known habit of drinking; and Achrjani is a derivative of the ancient Thracian tribe of ‘Agrianoi’ (Seyppel, 1989:48).

Bulgarian historians insist on the Pomak language, which is a variant of Bulgarian, albeit with some specific characteristics. This proves to them that Pomaks are Bulgarians who, probably in the XVII century, were forced to be Islamized; nevertheless, they remained crypto-Christians and have in fact preserved Bulgarian culture in its ‘purest’ form (Seyppel, 1989:42; Sarides, 1987 and references therein; Hidiroglou, 1991 and references therein). The Bulgarian view, in its basic elements, appears to be the most widely accepted outside the area (Wilkinson, 1951:314-5; Poulton, 1993). For Bulgarians, ‘Pomak’ comes from either the Turkish term ‘Pomagach’ (‘helper’), reflecting the social position of Pomaks in the Ottoman period, or from the Bulgarian ‘Pomochamedanci’ (‘Islamized’); as for Achrjani, it is supposed to come from Old Bulgarian ‘Aagarjani’ (‘infidels’) (Seyppel, 1989:47).

Finally, Turks base their arguments on the Muslim religion of the Pomaks. According to them, they are the descendants of various Turkish tribes (Pechenegs, Avars, Kumans) which established themselves in the Southern Balkans before the latter’s conquest by the Ottomans. So, Pomaks are the oldest Turkish population in Europe and, perhaps, ‘pure-blooded’ Turks (Seyppel, 1989:42; Sarides, 1987 and references therein; Hidiroglou, 1991 and references therein). The word Pomak, in this version, comes from Turkish ‘Pomagach’ (‘helper’) and Achrjani from the Persian word ‘Ahiyan’ (the known religious fraternities) (Seyppel, 1989:48). Pomaks in Greece prefer to subscribe to the Turkish version of their origins, in accordance with the Turkish national identity they have developed in recent decades. On the other hand, Pomaks in Bulgaria (usually called Bulgarian Muslims) are divided: some have Bulgarian leanings, others Turkish leanings while others have a separate ethnic identity.

The Muslim Pomaks helped the Sultan crash the Bulgarian uprising in 1876, and subsequently disagreed with the San Stefano Treaty provisions which led to the stillborn Great Bulgaria: they revolted to create an autonomous administration which survived for many years, in some 20 localities in the Rhodope mountains (Dalegre, 1995:123-38). Besides, in 1913, during the short-lived ‘Republic of Gumuldjina’ in Thrace, created after the retreat of Bulgarian and Ottoman troops, the Pomaks who had been forcefully Christianized by Bulgarians returned to their Muslim religion. Also, after World War I in 1918, eight Pomak deputies of the Bulgarian parliament had sent a memo to Greek leader E. Venizelos and the French delegation, asking for Greece’s protection as a reaction to previous repeated efforts of the Bulgarians to fully assimilate them by Christianizing them, and eventually for Thrace’s annexation to Greece; at the same time, the representatives of the Turkish Committee of Gumuldjina petitioned to the Great Powers for Thrace’s autonomy, while other Pomaks favored Thrace to remain Bulgarian (Dalegre, 1995:168-71; Divani, 1995:60 -the latter omits the pro-Bulgarian petition); likewise, a Pomak delegation from Greece and Bulgaria made similar claims after World War II (Dalegre, 1995: 198-9; Sarides, 1987).

After 1923, Pomaks who lived in Greece outside Thrace had to resettle in Turkey because they were exchanged as Muslims in accordance with the Treaty of Lausanne. Only Pomaks in Thrace were exempted from this mandatory exchange of populations and stayed in Greece: they subsequently were among the most stringent opponents of the Kemalist reforms in Turkey, and therefore of the links between the Muslim minority in Thrace and the secular Turkish state.

During World War II, Bulgarians once again implemented a Bulgarization campaign among Pomaks, with some collaboration of the latter; as a consequence, the post-war Greek governments, from the time of the Civil War on, suspected the Pomaks of being the fifth column of communist Bulgaria; hence both the restricted military zone introduced in their mountain villages and the decision to send Pomak children to Turkish language schools, in an effort to distance them from Bulgarians. It is probably for that reason that Greek authorities decreed in 1954 that all Muslim institutions change their names to Turkish, as Turkey at the time was a trusted NATO ally in the Cold War era; fifteen years later, the military junta reversed Greek policy, in essence banning the word Turkish and substituting the word Muslim for it (Sarides, 1987). The post-1974 democratic Greek state has been upholding that ruling; but Pomaks have by now acquired a solid Turkish national identity and such measures can only aggravate the tensions and the feeling of discrimination among them.

Current situation of the community and the language

Through the end of 1995, most Pomaks lived in a military “restricted zone”, access to which required a special permission, hardly ever granted to foreigners and therefore to foreign scholars (Seyppel, 1989:44). The zone was abolished in November 1995. The inhabitants of the villages within the zone have had special identity cards which restrict their freedom of movement within the limits of the department (within 30 km from their village through 1992): to travel or resettle further away, they too need a permit from the authorities, although this provision appears not to be strictly enforced (Dimitras, 1991:78; & 1994:21-2). These special measures were not abolished in November 1995.

Pomaks identify themselves with the Turks and, in the presence of outsiders, would even change the language of communication among themselves from Pomak into Turkish (Seyppel, 1989:47; Frangopoulos, 1990:90; Dimitras, 1991:77). Most Pomaks have today a double identity: an ethnic Pomak and a national Turkish one (see Dede, 1994:13). This assimilation into the Turkish nation was certainly helped by the Greek state’s decision, in 1951, to introduce Turkish-language education for Pomaks in an effort to distance them from Bulgarians. But, it is believed that the main reason for the Muslim minority’s homogenization has been the Pomaks’ feeling that through their identification with Turks they would no longer be a minority into a minority, or have no one to defend their rights.

Some Pomaks go as far as denying the existence of an ethnic Pomak identity, just like some Arvanites, Vlachs, or Macedonians deny the existence of a separate ethnic identity besides their Greek national identity. Moreover, they hear with incredulity that their language can be written, believing that such efforts are aiming at distancing them from Turks (Frangopoulos, 1988:4).

So, there is no distinct Pomak leadership today: the community’s leaders form part of the Turkish minority leadership and defend Pomak interests as Turkish interests (Sarides, 1987). Pomaks, Turks and Muslim Roma in Thrace face many problems of discrimination from Greek authorities and a growing hostility from Greek public opinion (Helsinki Watch, 1990; Dimitras, 1991 & 1994). The persistent refusal of Greek authorities to respond to the minority’s demands led to a radicalization of the minority’s attitude, reflected also in the emergence since 1985 of independent minority candidates who have been receiving the majority of Muslim votes. Pomaks are also resenting the new effort of Greek authorities, evident since 1994, to attempt to dissociate them from the Turks and to give -at least to the most cooperating among- them some privileges, like access to higher education institutions or to officer rank during their military service: when Pomak leaders protest and remind that they have a Turkish national or ethnic identity, they become the object of violent, often insulting, attacks by Greek media (like Kathimerini) and political leaders (like the Parliament’s Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis).

In education, the Pomak language has never been included in the educational curricula of the modern Greek state, but it is used as a means of communication among pupils at schools and, at the kindergartenand elementary level, sometimes by teachers. Otherwise, Pomaks attend the same schools with Turks and Muslim Roma in Thrace. According to Greek authorities, in 1994, for the whole Muslim (indeed Turkish) community, there were 231 Muslim elementary schools with 8,591 pupils and two minority secondary schools plus two Muslim seminars with 511 students: the secondary schools are obviously insufficient for the needs of the community, which is thus discouraged to send the children beyond primary school, although, according to Greek law, education is mandatory through the third year of secondary school. Many Pomak families, just like many Turkish families, therefore choose to send their children to schools in Turkey. Moreover, there is hardly any use of the language towards the authorities and in public services: in theory, Pomaks are allowed to address them in their language, through interpreters, but, as most speak Greek, they hardly ever opt to do it.

Today, most Pomaks are fluent in Turkish (the language of their education and the dominant language within the broad Muslim community), understand some Arabic (the language of the Koran) and can also speak Greek (a language they use to communicate with Greeks and Greek authorities). In the mountain villages, most speak Pomak at home; their language does not seem to be severely threatened with extinction and its use is not systematically discouraged by Greek authorities; nevertheless, as Pomaks identify with Turks, there is a tendency among the latter to discourage the use of Pomak, so as to achieve a better homogenization (i.e. Turkification) of the Muslim minority. Moreover, it appears that there is a slow decline in the use of the language among younger generations (De Jong, 1994). There are no studies on language use comparable to the ones for the other linguistic communities whose languages are not used at schools (Arvanites, Vlachs, Macedonians).

Finally, although Pomaks live on the other side of the Greek-Bulgarian frontier too, there are very few transfrontier contacts: in fact, since the beginning of the Cold War, border crossings to Bulgaria have been closed in the two departments with significant Pomak populations (Xanthi and Rodopi), as Greek authorities wanted to avoid Bulgarian infiltration of the Pomaks of Greece. In late 1995, Greece and Bulgaria agreed to reopen these crossings. Their closing was one reason why most Pomak villages had since then been included in restricted military zones, with special permits been required to enter in or leave from these zones, even through 1994.

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