02 July 2007

Bulgaria and the Turks

Not so many years ago much of Europe was in the hands of the Ottoman Turks, rulers of a great Muslim empire. It was only towards the end of the nineteenth century that the final push to drive them out of Europe got under way. World War I would finish them off.

During all those centuries they were in Europe, however, many Turks moved into the area and many more locals became Muslims. Some of these latter continued to speak their native languages, like the Bosnian Muslims, others adopted Turkish. Many of those Turkish speaking Muslims stayed, at least until recently.

Take the 900,000 of them who lived in Bulgaria. Tony Judt in Postwar: A History of Europe since 1949 tells what happened to them at the hands of the Bulgarian government:

Things were brought to a head by the exodus to Turkey, during the summer of 1989, of an estimated 300,000 ethnic Turks -- another public relations calamity for the regime, and an economic one too, as the country began to run short of manual labors.

Of course, the effect on a wealthy country like America would be .... probably much worse.


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