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Passion Islam I February 2010 SPECIAL FEATURE I 23
unilateral decrees issued by the Sultan. In Turkish War of 1806–1812, when the Budjak population reportedly enjoyed a notable
one compromise version published in 1993, and Bessarabia were ceded to Russia (they degree of religious tolerance. Nevertheless,
Romanian historian Mihai Maxim argues that, settled in northern Tulcea County - Isaccea after 1910, the community was subject to a
although these were unilateral acts, they and Babadag). Khotyn, once part of Moldavia, steady decline, and many predominantly-
were viewed as treaties by the Wallachian was the birthplace of Alemdar Mustafa Pasha, Muslim villages were abandoned.
and Moldavian rulers. Research carried out in who was the Ottoman Grand Vizier until 1808.
the 2000s claims to have discovered genuine Two more Grand Viziers between 1821 and Communism & post-Revolution
Capitulations and other documents taken as 1828 came from Bender (a once Moldavian period
proof that the relations between the Danubian city), as Benderli Pashas. The dome of the Carol I Mosque in Constanţa,
Principalities and the Porte did indeed have a Over the same period, large groups of topped by the Islamic crescent The Dobrujan
contractual character. Circassians (as many as 200,000), refugees Muslim community was exposed to cultural
Provisions toward Muslim-Christian from the Caucasian War, were resettled in repression during Communist Romania. After
relations have traditionally been assessed the Dobruja and northern Bulgaria by the 1948, all property of the Islamic institutions
by taking in view later policies. According to Ottomans (localities with large Circassian became state-owned. The following year, the
one prominent interpretation, this would mean populace included Isaccea, Slava Cercheză, state-run and secular compulsory education
that the Principalities were regarded by the Crucea, Horia, and Nicolae Bălcescu). During system set aside special classes for Tatar
Ottomans as belonging to the Dâr al ahd’ the 1860s, a significant number of Nogais, and Turkish children. According to Irwin, this
(“Home of Peace”), a status granted to them also fleeing Russian conquest, left their was part of an attempt to create a separate
in exchange for material gains. Therefore, homes in the Caucasus and joined in the Tatar literary language, intended as a means
the Ottoman Empire did not maintain troops exodus to Dobruja. Members of other Muslim to assimilate the Tatar community.
or garrisons or build military facilities.Instead, communities which joined in the colonization A reported decline in standards led to the
as it happened in several instances, Ottoman included Arabs (a group of 150 families of separate education agenda being ceased
Sultans allowed their Tatar subjects to raid fellahin from Syria Province, brought over in in 1957. As a consequence, education in
Moldavia or Wallachia as a means to punish 1831-1833), Kurds, and Persians—all of these Tatar dialects and Turkish was eliminated in
the dissent of local Princes. Literary historian three communities were quickly integrated stages after 1959, becoming optional, while
Ioana Feodorov notes that the relations into the Tatar-Turkish mainstream. the madrasah in Medgidia was shut down
ISLAM IN ROMANIA
between the two smaller states and the in the 1960s. The population of Ada Kaleh
Ottoman suzerain were based on a set of Kingdom of Romania relocated to Anatolia shortly before the 1968
principles and rules to which the Ottoman Tatars (yellow) and Turks (dark purple) in construction of the Đerdap dam by a joint
Empire adhered, and indicates that, early in Northern Dobruja (1903)Tatars in Tulcea Yugoslav-Romanian venture, which resulted
the 17th century, this system drew admiration County were driven out by Russian troops in the island being flooded. At the same time,
from the Arabic-speaking Christian traveler during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 Sufi tradition was frowned upon by Communist
Paul of Aleppo. (see Muhajir Balkan). Following the conflict officials—as a result of their policies, the Sufi
and the Berlin Congress, the Romanian groups became almost completely inactive.
17th-19th century government of Ion Brătianu agreed to extend However, according to historian Zachary
By the 17th century, according to the notes of civil rights to non-Christians. In 1923 a T. Irwin, the degree to which the Muslim
traveler Evliya Çelebi, Dobruja was also home monument in the shape of a small mosque community was repressed and dispersed was
to a distinct community of people of mixed was built in Bucharest’s Carol Park, as sign lower in Romania than in other countries of
Turkish and Wallachian heritage. Additionally, of reconciliation after World War I. A small Eastern Europe, and the measures were less
a part of the Dobrujan Roma community has Muslim community resided on Ada Kaleh severe than, for instance, those taken against
traditionally adhered to Islam;it is believed that island in the Danube, south of the Banat, an Romanian Roman Catholics and Protestants.
it originated with groups of Romani people Ottoman enclave and later part of Austria- The state sponsored an edition of the
serving in the Ottoman Army during the 16th Hungary, which was transferred to Romania Qur’an, and top clerics such as Mufti Iacub
century, and has probably incorporated various in 1923. Mehmet and Bucharest Imam Regep
ethnic Turks who had not settled down in the At the end of the Second Balkan War Sali, represented the community in the
cities or villages. Alongside Dobruja, a part of in 1913, the Kingdom of Romania came to Great National Assembly during Nicolae
present-day Romania under direct Ottoman include Southern Dobruja, whose population Ceauşescu’s years in office. In the 1980s, a
rule in 1551-1718 was the Eyalet of Temeşvar was over 50% Turkish (the region was ceded delegation of Romanian Muslims visited Iran
(the Banat region of western Romania), to Bulgaria in 1940). As recorded after World after the Islamic Revolution succeeded in that
which extended as far as Arad (1551-1699) War I, Romania had a population of 200,000 country. They also adhered to international
and Oradea (1661-1699). The few thousand Muslims from a total of 7 million, the majority bodies sponsored by Libya and Saudi Arabia.
Muslims settled there were, however, driven of which were Turks who lived in the two These gestures, according to Irwin, brought
out by Habsburg conquest. areas of Dobruja (as many as 178,000). only a few objections from the regime.
The presence of Muslims in the two Since 1877, the community was led by Following the Romanian Revolution of
Danubian Principalities was also attested, four separate muftiyats. Their number was 1989, Tatar and Turkish were again added to
centering on Turkish traders and small reduced during the interwar period, when the the curriculum for members of the respective
communities of Muslim Roma. It is also cities of Constanţa and Tulcea each housed communities, and, in 1993, the Medgidia
attested that, during later Phanariote rules and a muftiyat. In 1943, the two institutions were madrasah was reopened as a Theological
the frequent Russo-Turkish Wars, Ottoman again unified around the mufi in Constanţa. and Pedagogic High School named after
troops were stationed on Wallachia’s territory. Outside Dobruja, the relatively small presence Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The
Following the Crimean Khanate’s of Albanian Muslims also left a cultural imprint: school was later elevated to National College
conquest by the Russian Empire (1783), in 1921, the first translation of the Qur’an into status, and is known in Romanian as Colegiul
many Tatars there took refuge in Dobruja, the Albanian language was completed by Naţional Kemal Atatürk. Since the 1990s,
especially around Medgidia. At the time, Ilo Mitke Qafëzezi in the Wallachian city of the official representatives of the Muslim
Crimean Tatars had become the largest Ploieşti. community maintain close relations with
community in the region. Nogais in the Budjak Until after World War II, the overall international non-governmental organizations
began to arrive upon the close of the Russo- religiously conservative and apolitical Muslim such as the Muslim World League.
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