Bulgaria's Muslims not deeply religious: study
SOFIA - Agence France-Presse
A Muslim prays during a morning mass for the Eid al-Adha Muslim Feast in front of Banya Bashi mosque in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011. AP Photo
Bulgaria's Muslim minority are not deeply religious, although they enthusiastically practise traditional rituals, a study showed Friday.
Only 28.5 percent of respondents said they were deeply religious, a negligible 0.5 percent believed that disputes should be resolved using Islamic Sharia law and as many as 79.6 percent said that wearing a veil in school was "unacceptable." "People who evoke the scarecrow of Islamic fundamentalism in Bulgaria are wrong," said Evgenia Ivanova of New Bulgarian University, the study's author. "Religion is not of primary importance to Bulgaria's Muslims." Muslims make up 13 percent of the southeastern European nation's population of 7.3 million.
The study with 850 respondents, the first to be conducted in the past 25 years, found that only 48.6 percent described themselves as religious. Some 41 percent never went to the mosque and 59.3 percent did not even pray at home.
Meanwhile, 88 percent of respondents said they circumcised their boys and a massive 96 percent observed Muslim burial practices for their relatives.
"The respect for traditions is another thing: many Christians also respect the religious traditions even if they are not strong believers," Ivanova noted.
Bulgarian Muslims are increasingly adopting modern practices, with more tha half of the study's respondents saying cohabitation without marriage was "acceptable." Some 39.8 percent said they eat pork and 43.3 percent admitted to drinking alcohol.
A total of 64 percent said they belonged to Bulgaria's Turkish minority, 10.1 percent identified themselves as pomaks, whose ancestors converted to Islam during the Ottoman rule of the Balkans, and 7.0 percent said they were Roma.