Tag Archives: European Union

We can always call them Bulgarians. — Samuel Goldwyn (Attributed)

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Dining with my friend Plamen at a restaurant in Sofia.

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“We can always call them Bulgarians,” is a quotation attributed by Wilella Waldorf to “Samuel Goldwyn or somebody” in the New York Post, September 17, 1937. (as cited in The origin of “Bulgarian” as a euphemism for sexual minorities.) The euphemism was used in American cinema and theatre when referring to gay and lesbian characters on screen and stage starting in the first half of the 20th century. What made me think of this is my recent trip to Bulgaria. I left Ottawa, bound for Bulgaria, on July 14 and returned on July 25. I met up with my friend Plamen in Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria, and embarked on a whirlwind tour with him as my guide and interpreter. We had a great time. Bulgaria has a rich history and culture going back to antiquity, and today Bulgaria is a peaceful and prosperous society. During the tour, we did not visit any gay bars or clubs in Bulgaria as it was not on the itinerary; still, in the back of my mind, I wondered what life is like for gay people in Bulgaria. Do gay people live openly in Bulgarian society, or do they remain closeted and if so, why? Continue reading

Turks were a great nation even before they adopted Islam. This religion did not help the Arabs, Iranians, Egyptians and others to unite with Turks to form a nation. Conversely, it weakened the Turks’ national relations; it numbed Turkish national feelings and enthusiasm. This was natural, because Mohammedanism was based on Arab nationalism above all nationalities. — Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881–1938)

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The Hagia Sophia has become the focal point in Turkish society’s current struggle between secularists and Islamists. The Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923 as a secular, parliamentary democracy with a president as head of state. In 1935, the Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum and opened to the public by the Turkish government led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938). It became a major tourist attraction in Istanbul. It was turned into a museum, presumably, to reconcile the troubled history between Christianity and Islam with the realities of Turkey’s modern, secular state. The Hagia Sophia was the seat of Orthodox Christianity, the Patriarch of Constantinople, for several centuries (537–1204), a Roman Catholic cathedral from (1204–1261) and back to the Orthodox Church (1261–1453) until the conquest of the city by the Turks. It served as the first of several Imperial Mosques for the Ottoman Empire from 1453-1931. In the present, the drive to restore the Hagia Sophia as a mosque gained momentum. In 2013, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, expressing this desire, said: “We currently stand next to the Hagia Sophia Mosque… we are looking at a sad Hagia Sophia, but hopefully we will see it smiling again soon.” (as cited in Ansa med) On July 10, 2020, President Erdogan signed a decree, ordering the restoration of the Hagia Sophia as a mosque. Continue reading