The Rumelian Turk of Yugoslavia
The Rumelian Turk are a remnant of the Ottoman Turks who swept through Serbia and Eastern Europe during the fourteenth century. For five hundred years the Ottoman Empire controlled the European Balkan Mountain region. At its peak, the empire encompassed the Balkan Mountains, Arabia, and North Africa.
With the breakup of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, Serbia and Montenegro became part of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovene, which was later known as Yugoslavia. In 1946, it was recreated as the Federal State of Yugoslavia and consisted of six republics. Four republics (Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Bosnia-Hercegovina) declared their independence in 1991-92. In April of 1992, the remaining two republics formed a new, smaller Yugoslavia. The area's broad ethnic diversity and war-torn history continue to make it one of Europe's most tense regions.
What are their lives like?
Even though the Ottoman Turk ruled the Balkans for centuries, they were always an ethnic minority. Religious, linguistic, and social differences kept them from intermarrying with the local populations in large numbers. When they did intermarry, Turkish men usually married Muslim, non-Turkish women. Polygamy (having more than one spouse) is prohibited by state law.
Today, many things in Yugoslavia reflect the influence of the lengthy Turkish Ottoman occupation. There are a number of Ottoman-style, domed mosques with pencil-thin pillars, modeled after those in Istanbul. The wooden houses decorated with latticework windows and containing separate quarters for men and women also have a Turkish flavor. Also, many of the marketplaces have specialty stores that are grouped together.
Lamb, a favorite meat of the Turk, is typically prepared as a pilaf (rice and oil cooked with small bits of meat). Musaka (roasted meat and eggplant) and kapama (mutton with spinach and green onions) also are popular dishes. The Turk, who relish sweets, are especially fond of Turkish delight (a gummy confection usually cut in cubes and dusted with sugar). The Muslim religion forbids drinking alcoholic beverages; instead, the Turk drink lots of strong coffee and yogurt.
What are their beliefs?
The Yugoslavian Communist government that was established after World War II tolerated Muslim religious observances and institutions, including Islamic schools. However, the Muslim Turk were required to follow the compulsory state educational system.
What are their needs?
The Bible, the Jesus film, and Christian radio broadcasts are all available in Turkish. However, very few of the Rumelian Turk in Yugoslavia are known to have become Christians. No missions agency is currently working among the Turk in this region. They desperately need committed workers to show them Christ's love.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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