Visit at the Muslim-Turkish cemetery in Sofia

The Association for Cultural Interaction in Sofia organized an unusual event. On 29th of November, 2014, a group of young people with the participation of the Chairwoman of the association Dr. Emine Bayraktarova and the Chairman of the SMC and a Deputy Grand Mufti Vedat S. Ahmed visited the Muslim/Turkish cemetery in the quarter of Orlandovtsi, Sofia, which is actually a part of the central cemetery. The cemetery is valuable from the perspective of the Muslim-Turkish history and culture in Bulgaria. A plot for the Muslims is assigned there, which is known as the Turkish plot (No. 42). From the beginning of 20th century Muslims have been buried there as it is assumed that the cemetery is established in 1899. But the places are already occupied and only those which were reserved in advance can be used for funerals.
Among the preserved Turkish graves are those of one of the first muftis of Sofia and a MP after 1878 Hafiz Bilyal Efendi from Silistra, the sultan’s wife (princess)Fatma Sultan, a daughter of Sultan Murad V, the Turkish scientist and public figures such as Prof. İbrahim Tatarlı, Yusuf Kerim, Sabri Demir and others. Unfortunately in the years of the communism and the turbulent democratic times which followed many of the graves are destroyed or illegally sold out. Like this for example today it is not possible to visit the graves of the Grand Mufti Hyusein Hyusnyu Efendi and the poet-thinker Mehmed Fikri, who were buried near the grave of Fatma Sultan.
During the visit it was found again that there are non-Muslims wrongfully buried in the cemetery, and some of the graves are in a forlorn condition as a result of vandalism and lack of interest. That is why it is necessary measures to be undertaken as soon as possible in order to protect this religious, cultural and historical memory.
The management and the preservation of the cemetery is in the competence of the municipality, but in this regard Grand Mufti’s Office and Regional mufti’s Office – Sofia can initiate actions for preserving the cemetery and their proper use by holding meetings with the relevant institutions and by seeking support from NGOs and individuals.

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