Strangers in Their Own Country
a photographic research into European Values

Bulgaria, Turkey 2006

My photographic journey is an attempt to take a closer look at the Muslim minority in Bulgaria and those of its members who have emigrated to Turkey.

The fate of these people is as little known as it is remarkable. In the early 1980s, the communist government launched a so-called “Bulgarianisation campaign”, forcing the million or so Muslims to adopt Bulgarian names. In 1989, the campaign was revoked. Nevertheless, riots erupted as a result of the changes. Hundreds of thousands of Bulgarian Muslims left their country and emigrated to a new, unknown home – Turkey.

My aim was to rediscover these people, to examine their distinctive features and their religion, and to develop an understanding for them. They belong to a still mysterious part of Europe which lives by a system of values, completely different to our own. My pictures are intended to draw one’s gaze in their direction – and, where possible, convey a feeling for this Muslim community, by reflecting its dignity and its values.