which is due both to the centuries long politicizationand ideologization of these questions and various na-tional and chauvinistic interests. The social contextof the historical memory in Bulgaria is related to theprocess of the construction of the nation and espe-cially the efforts to integrate and homogenize thepopulation. First, this directly affects the Bulgarian-speaking Muslim population (the Bulgarian Mo-hammedans) and its place in the new independentstate, which is itself not interested in integration,leaving that to the larger Muslim group. In all popu-lation accountings from the end of the 19
century(1880, 1885, 1888) Bulgarian speaking Muslims arerecorded as ‘Turks’. Yet in the accounting from1905 the separate group of the Pomaks appears.The term Pomaks itself is used as the name of theMuslim communities that speak Serbian, Greek orWalachian, with the corresponding specifications:the Serbian Pomaks (Bošnijaci), Greek Pomaks(Walachidi), Vlaški Pomaci. Pomaks is not a tradi-tional name and it was not the name of all the Bul-garian Mohammedans. It was established through journalism and literature by taking the place of thepre-existing regional names. One can read in theTurkish encyclopaedia for ‘Pomak’ that these wereBulgarians who shifted to Islam preserving theirlanguage and national spirit. The term “BulgarianMohammedans” was established in Bulgarian his-torical literature after their Liberation from Turkishslavery in 1878. At an everyday level, the localterms Ahrijani and Kauri appear in the spoken lan-guage.The question this raises is about that part of theBulgarian population (about 250,000 people) thatdetermines itself as ethnical Bulgarians and whohave accepted Islam as their religion. Within thisgroup there is a part who lately either returned to thereligion of their ancestors – Eastern Orthodoxy – , joined the Evangelical Church, accepted some otherconfession, or, more recently, adopted an atheisticphilosophical conception of the world. TheBulgarian Mohammedans are linguistically thepurest Bulgarians as they managed to keep theSlavic features and language untill now better thanthe Christians. A large part of the modern scientificresearch of the Bulgarian Mohammedans is aimed atthe study of their ancient Bulgarian language,folklore customs and original traditional culture
See The old features in the life and culture of theRhodopean Bulgarians 1965: IEIM, Vol. 7, 95–106.
The geographical limit of the Bulgarian Mo-hammedans coincides with the ethnic territory of theBulgarians from the second half of the 19
centuryand the beginning of the 20
century. To the Northof the Balkan mountain the Love
, Pleven, Teteven,Bijala Slatina, Vratza, T
rnovo and Russe districts.At the territory of the east Rhodopes, the BulgarianMohammedans are present in the regions of Smo-lyan and Kirdzhali. The immigrants from the vil-lages of Banite, Madan, Zlatograd and Rudozemform the appearance of the villages of Skakak andVišna (the Ruen municipality) as well as the villagesof Bosilkovo and Manoli
(Sungurlare). The Bulgar-ian Mohammedans in the territory of Greece (Belo-morska Trakija) – Ksanti, Rodopi and Evros, are bi-lingual due the assimilatory policy of the Greekgovernment, which allows education only in Turkishor Greek. However, in our other southern neighbourTurkey (Lijule Burgas and Odrin districts) they pre-served an excellent Bulgarian language. There isalso a community of Bulgarian Muslims in the terri-tory of the West Rhodopes in the regions of Dospat,Devin,
epina, Smolena, Peštera, Zlatograd,Asenovgrad, Plovodv, Gijumijurdžina, in Macedonia– the regions of Nevrokop, Drama, Solun, M
glen,Veleš, Resen, Bitolija, Prilep, Kostur, Tikveš, te-tovo, Strumica, Voden, Skopije), and in Albania – inthe regions of Golo B
rdo and Reka.The Bulgarian Ethnic origin of the Rhodopeanpopulation is confirmed by the 3-year study of the French scholar Ami Boue, who finds that notall the Mohammedans in the Ottoman Empire areTurkish.The question of whether the shift to Islam is aresult of a centrally planned and systematically ap-plied policy of assimilation or is the product of anindividually performed social, political and religiousadaptation is the subject of internal discussions anddifferences in Bulgarian historiography
. Non-violent or voluntary conversion to Islam can be con-sidered a result of an indirect pressure or coercion(economic and social – tax privileges and allevia-tions, but not administrative alleviations) with theaim to achieve a social reclassification. From an au-thentic Defter for the expenses of newly-IslamizedBulgarians during the period June 1679 till May1680, which is present in the Oriental Department of
The research of Prof. Strašimir Dimitrov and thecollections of documents published by Prof. Pet
r Petrovhave an especially high significance.