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Do You Speak Corona? Entrepreneurs organize fundraising campaigns to help the poor members of the Pomak community in Bulgaria

“Our people strictly followed the rules of the Bulgarian government's crisis management team. We have also closed our prayer houses, even though the Orthodox majority has left their prayer houses open” – says Asan Molla from the European Institute Pomak. The Pomaks are Slavic Muslims inhabiting Bulgaria, northeastern Greece and mainly northwestern Turkey. The 220,000 strong ethno-confessional minority in Bulgaria is known officially as Bulgarian Muslims.

“We are currently in the holy month of Ramadan and the faithful are striving to do good. People support each other with their own strengths and their own resources” – points out Mr Molla, who currently lives in Germany, but is in permanent contact with the Pomak community.

“People can not go to work and have no income. The government has not helped financially at all. The members of the minority community who have their own businesses and are financially independent, have organized fundraising campaigns for the other members. People bought food and distributed it among the poor” – he told us. The situation is bad for the poor. According to one of the fundraisers, people were depressed and desperate. They told him that they could start early with Ramadan Lent because there is nothing to eat.

In Mr Molla’s words, the Pomaks, as a minority, were opressed in Bulgaria, and as a result, they have developed a particular sensitivity to repressive practices. “The minority believes that these actions in connection with the pandemic are precisely such repressive actions” – he adds.

During April 2020 FUEN has conducted a survey entitled Do You Speak Corona? on the situation of European minorities during the pandemic. The online questionnaire focused on the availability of information related to COVID-19 in general, healthcare information related to the outbreak, the existence of an emergency hotline operated in minority language and the availability of online education in minority language. The short report on the results is here and you can download the whole report in PDF format by clicking here.

This series of case studies is the continuation of the Do You Speak Corona? project.