• Islam: The frightening religious otherness

    Security & Future, Vol. 3 (2019), Issue 1, pg(s) 25-28

    Against the backdrop of the changing role of religion in geopolitical relations, and in connections with the identified global threats to humankind (such as terrorism, organized crime, human trafficking, etc.), a considerable number of theorists and ideologues focused on the problem of security are relating these threats to the growing activeness of religious minorities in various parts of the world, and specifically of supporters of the extreme, fundamentalist version of Islam. Speaking of security, we must inevitably think of fears. The latter are about personal and public safety or the anxiety that society may stop functioning. Widespread fears have a corrosive, long-term effect on social cohesion and stability. The social exclusion of ever-greater groups of people spreads to more and more spheres, such as those of the economy, the market, politics, education, healthcare, etc. The increasing marginalization of groups of people, and the inability of institutions to resolve the problem, result in the search for a scapegoat – the role of such may fall upon the political elites, ethnic minorities, migrants. Identifying an enemy is a precondition of social conflict. We are increasingly afraid of one another as we have become accustomed to believing that our worlds are so different that there meeting would bring about the end of at least one of them. Labeling, supported by passionate qualifications, has proved to be a universal way of dealing with the unfamiliar. Woe to him who cannot define himself and continues naively to believe we can live together without the aid of stereotypes. The oldest and strongest human emotion is fear, and the oldest and strongest fear is that of the unknown. Some of the images related to contemporary Islam are formed not within the House of Islam, but where the religious community is obliged to coexist with others. The change of representations of the so-called European Islam can be identified in Bulgarian reality as well. The willingness to adopt and follow certain principles of conduct typical for the arguments of fundamentalism grows in direct proportion with the growing variety of the immediate social environments of Muslims. In fact, the spaces of fundamentalist interpretation of the religious canon are formed not within the traditional Muslim communities but at the points of their active contacts with other cultural and religious models.



    Science. Business. Society., Vol. 2 (2017), Issue 3, pg(s) 147-150

    Even before the conquest of the Balkan peninsula was completed by the end of the 15 century, the Ottoman Empire was faced with the need to increase the Muslim component of the local population so as to affirm Ottoman power in the new lands. The central authorities, the army and the clergy began to systematically implement a policy of Islamization. Colonization and migration were among the factors that led to the settlement of a numerous Muslim population. Conversion to Islam was linked to certain advantages, such as pardon for violations of law, the distribution of offices and positions, assistance for impoverished new Muslims, inclusion in Ottoman military organizations such as the spahi, the janissaries, the yaya (peasant infantry), the muslem (autonomous peasant cavalry), the akinji (advance cavalry), the yuruks, etc. There was a merging of ethnic and religious identity stemming from the way in which the Empire was organized and from the importance of religion for the exercise of power. Religious affiliation became an ethnonym of power, and power was in Muslim hands. Evidently, the causes and factors of the conversion to Islam of part of the Balkan population have not been definitively clarified and will remain debatable if the explanation is looked for in “coercion” alone or in “voluntary choice” alone. Perhaps the causes might be related to the internal political strategy of the Ottoman state with regard to the numerous population of the Balkans as well as to the medieval religiousness of the peasants and the incapacity of the Orthodox Church, in its subordinate position, to maintain their faith and provide them with material assistance.



    Science. Business. Society., Vol. 1 (2016), Issue 4, pg(s) 43-45

    The processes we designate as globalization tend to provoke resistance, which arises ever more often as an effort on the part of various ethno-cultural and religious traditions to preserve their own identity. In this context, ethnic and religious affiliations become centers of meaning in the striving towards a separate identity in the global debate regarding the quality of human development.

    Achieving a national community and building new norms of coexistence under the conditions of ethno-religious variety are becoming a strategic goal of contemporary development. Contemporary civilization faces the need to respond to the critique and resistance of various forms of religious fundamentalism, and especially the critique formulated in the tradition of Islamic fundamentalism.

    The problems related to national identity have been far more often described and discussed in the context of nationalist fears of difference than in terms of the effort to overcome the crisis of identity amidst the imposed similarities. Under Bulgarian conditions, ethnic and religious diversity continues to be perceived as an established fact that we must take into account, and not as a resource for nation building. Achieving a national identity should be the result of joint effort. The first and most difficult part of this effort is to recognize that this common meaning exists in a diversity of forms. The coming years will be marked by a search for new grounds of one’s own identity, a search for the spaces that define parts of ourselves. The great challenge facing Bulgaria is to rediscover the values and meaning of the national community. Only thus will our genuine, full presence in Europe become a fact.



    Science. Business. Society., Vol. 1 (2016), Issue 1, pg(s) 45-48

    The results of the analyses of European Values Study data (European Values Study 2008) indicate significant differences between the social and value profile of Eastern Orthodox Christians and the Muslim community in Bulgaria. In this survey, for an important share of the respondents who define themselves as Muslims, religion is no longer a value in itself but a complete environment, which determines the attitude towards other values and relations. Religious morality structures the new models of participation and forms of solidarity. While the Orthodox Christians mostly have a traditional respect for the norms of faith, among an important part of the Muslims religion is becoming a value scale and a core of social activity in general. While we do have reason to consider that, overall, Bulgarian society is in a process of rethinking its attitude to religion, this applies to a much greater degree to Muslims. The mediating complex of factors that most probably accelerate certain processes of consolidation of the religious community is connected with its partial social isolation, its specific profile of professional, civic, and political activity.



    Industry 4.0, Vol. 1 (2016), Issue 1, pg(s) 64-66

    The article discusses the relationship between ethnic and religious differences through the prism of power, hate speech and national identity. The author concludes that ethno-religious variety in Bulgaria continues to be perceived passively, as something given, and not actively, as a resource for nation building. The author outlines certain problems engendered by the predominantly Muslim immigration pressure on Europe.