Persecution of Ottoman Muslims

Persecution of Ottoman Muslims
Part of the Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire
Map of persecutions against Ottoman Muslims between 1683 and 1922.
Location Ottoman Empire
Date 1683–1922
Target Muslim population of the Ottoman Empire
Attack type
Deportation, expulsion, massacres
Deaths 2 Millions (military personell included)[1][2][3]
Victims Millions of refugees.
Perpetrators Habsburg Monarchy, Austria-Hungary, Russian Empire, Christian (e.g. Greek and Armenian) insurgents, Balkan states

Persecution of Ottoman Muslims refers to the persecution, massacre, or ethnic cleansing of Muslims (most prominently Ottoman Turks) by non-Muslim ethnic groups during the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.[1] It took place mostly during the Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The 19th century saw the rise of nationalism in the Balkans which resulted in the establishment of an independent Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria. Most of the local Muslims in these countries suffered as many died during the conflicts and others fled. The persecution of Muslims was continued during World War I by the invading Russian troops in the east and during the Turkish War of Independence in the west, east, and south of Anatolia. After the Greek-Turkish war, a population exchange took place and most Muslims in Greece left. During these centuries many Muslim refugees, called Muhacir, settled in Turkey.


Turkish settlement and Islamisation

Turkish Muslims settled in the Balkans after it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire. Some of them were Yörüks, nomads who quickly became sedentary, and others were from urban classes. They settled in almost all of the towns, but the majority of them settled in the Eastern Balkans. The main areas of settlement were Ludogorie, Dobrudzha the Thracian plain, the mountains and plains of northern Greece and Eastern Macedonia around the Vardar river.

Between the 15th and 17th centuries, large numbers of native Balkan peoples converted to Islam. Places of mass or at times forced conversion were in Bosnia, Albania, Crete, and the Rhodope Mountains.[4] Some of the native population converted to Islam became Turkified over time, mainly those in Anatolia.[5]

Motives for persecution

Hall points out that atrocities were committed by all sides during the Balkan conflicts. Deliberate terror was designed to instigate population movements out of particular territories. The aim of targeting the civilian population was to carve ethnically homogeneous countries.[6]

Great Turkish War

Even before the Great Turkish War (1683—1699) Austrians and Venetians supported Christian irregulars and rebellious highlanders of Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania to raid Muslim Slavs.[7]

The end of the Great Turkish War marked the first time the Ottoman Empire lost large areas of territory to Christians. Most of Hungary, Podolia, and the Morea was lost. The Ottomans regained the Morea quickly, and Muslims soon became part of the population or were never thoroughly displaced in the first place.

Most of the Christians who lived in the Ottoman Empire were Orthodox so Russia was particularly interested in them. In 1711 Peter the Great invited Balkan Christians to revolt against Ottoman Muslim rule.[8]


About one quarter of all people living in Slavonia in the 16th century were Muslims who mostly lived in towns, with Osijek and Požega being the largest Muslim settlements.[9] Like other Muslims who lived in Croatia (Lika and Kordun) and Dalmatia, they were all forced to leave their homes until the end of 1699. This was the first example of the cleansing of Muslims in this region. This cleansing of Muslims "enjoyed the benediction of Catholic church". Around 130,000 Muslims from Croatia and Slavonia were driven to Ottoman Bosnia and Herzegovina.[10][11] Basically, all Muslims who lived in Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia were either forced to exile, murdered or enslaved.[9]

Thousands of Serb refugees crossed Danube and populated territories of Habsburg Monarchy left by Muslims. Leopold I granted ethno-religious autonomy to them without giving any privileges to the remaining Muslim population who therefore fled to Bosnia, Herzegovina and Serbia spreading anti-Christian sentiment among other Muslims there.[12] The relations between non-Muslim and Muslim population of Ottoman held Balkans became progressively worse.[13]

In the beginning of the 18th century remaining Muslims of Slavonia moved to Posavina.[14][15] The Ottoman authorities encouraged hopes of expelled Muslims for a quick return to their homes and settled them in the border regions.[16] The Muslims comprised about 2/3 population of Lika. All of them, like Muslims who lived in other parts of Croatia, were forced to convert to Catholicism or to be expelled.[17] Almost all buildings that belonged to Muslim religion and culture were destroyed in the region of Croatia after Muslims had to leave it.[18]

Northern Bosnia

In 1716, Austria occupied northern Bosnia alongside northern Serbia until 1739 when those lands were ceded back to the Ottoman Empire at the Treaty of Belgrade. During this era, the Austrian Empire outlined its position to the Bosnian Muslim population about living within its administration. Two options were offered by Charles VI such as a conversion to Christianity while retaining property and remaining on Austrian territory, or for a departure of those remaining Muslim to other lands.[19]


At the beginning of the 18th century (1709 or 1711) Orthodox Serbs massacred their Muslim neighbors in Montenegro.[20][21]

Russian expansion

Crimean Khanate

Nomadic Turkic speaking peoples, later known as "Tatars" had inhabited the steppes of Southern Ukraine since the early Middle Ages. Most of them became Islamised after the 13th century. After the dissolution of the Golden Horde the Crimean Khanate was established in the late 15th century. They gained control of northern Crimea while the Ottomans took over the south. This khanate had a long history of war with its Christian neighbours Russia and Poland. In the late 18th century the Russians expanded their empire with war against the Ottomans and Crimeans. After a series of destructive invasions into Crimea it became annexed to the Russian Empire in 1783. Russian discrimination and repression started a Crimean Tatar and Nogais exodus which would last into the 19th century.[22] 30,000 in 1778, some 100,000 between 1783 and 1791, and after the Crimean War between 100,000 and 150,000 left and migrated to the Ottoman Empire.[23]


The mountaineers leave the aul, by P. N. Gruzinsky, 1872

The native peoples of the Caucasus had been practically independent of outside powers during their existence. The east was Islamised rather early while in the west. the Circassians converted in the late 18th century. Russian encroachment on these peoples land began in the 16th century first with the settling of Cossacks in the lowlands. A low intensity conflict took place during the next centuries. In the 19th century Russia wished a more intense annexation and this resulted in the expansion of the conflict. Several years of dramatic resistance was offered by the natives who were in the end overwhelmed by the Russian armies. These wars resulted in a huge loss of lives, destruction of property and most of the Circassians were expelled to the Ottoman Empire.[24] Many of them died during the process or place of arrival. Nearly 30,000 Circassians died in Trabzon.[25] Survivors were scattered around Anatolia. A smaller number of eastern Caucasians migrated also. After the Crimean War the majority of the Abkhazians left their homeland after siding with an Ottoman invasion army. Tens of thousands Abkhazians left after a revolt in 1864.[26]

During the Russian conquest of the southern Caucasus a number of Turkic peoples called Karapapaks left their lands and settled in the Ottoman Empire.

Nationalist uprisings

Serbian Revolt

In 1804 Serbian Revolution broke out in Central Serbia, spreading into all directions, including Belgrade. It was directed towards Dahias, a Muslim unit which broke away from Constantinople and introduced harsh taxes. After some time, when revolt reached national level, Constantinople got involved against Serbian insurgents. The revolutionaries took over Belgrade in 1806 where an armed uprising against a Muslim garrison, including civilians, took place.[27] During the uprising urban centers with sizable Muslim populations were violently targeted such as Užice and Valjevo, as the Serbian peasantry held a class hatred of the urban Muslim elite.[28][29] In the end, Serbia became an autonomous country with most of the Muslims been expelled.[30] During the revolts 15,000–20,000 Muslims fled or were expelled.[31] In Belgrade and the rest of Serbia there remained a Muslim population of some 23,000 who were also forcibly expelled after 1862, following a massacre of Serbian civilians by Ottoman soldiers near Kalemegdan.[32][29] Some Muslim families then migrated and resettled in Bosnia, where their descendants today reside in urban centres such as Šamac, Tuzla, Foča and Sarajevo.[33]

Greek Revolution

In 1821, a major Greek revolt broke out in Southern Greece. Insurgents gained control of most of the countryside while the Muslims fled to the fortified towns and castles.[34] Each one of them was besieged and gradually through starvation or surrender most were taken over by the Greeks. In the massacres of April 1821 some 15,000 were killed.[34] The worst massacre happened in Tripolitsa, some 8,000 Muslims and Jews died.[34] In the end an Independent Greece was set up. Most of the Muslims in its area had been killed or expelled during the conflict.[34]


In 1821 a revolt also broke out in Crete but the island remained Ottoman. The Muslim population decreased from 73.234 in 1881 to 33.281 in 1900. The last remaining Cretan Muslims, some 23.500, were sent to Turkey by the population exchange.[35]


Thessaly was ceded to Greece after 1881. The local Muslims, some 40,000, emigrated and by 1911 only 3,000 remained.[34]

Bulgarian uprising

In 1876 a Bulgarian uprising broke out in dozens of villages. The first attacks were made against the local Muslims[36] but in a short time the Ottomans violently suppressed the uprising.

Russo-Turkish war


The Bulgarian uprising eventually lead to a war between Russia and the Ottomans. Russia invaded the Ottoman Balkans through Dobrudzha and northern Bulgaria attacking the Muslim population. In this war the Ottomans were defeated and in the process a large part of the Turks of Bulgaria fled to Anatolia and Constantinople. It was a cold winter and through massacres and diseases a large part of them died. Some of them returned after the war but most of these left again after oppression. The Bulgarian Turks settled mostly around the Sea of Marmara. Some of them had been wealthy and they played an important part in the Ottoman elite in later years. Almost half of the pre war 1,5 million Muslim population of Bulgaria was gone, an estimated 200,000 died and the rest fled.[37]

Migration continued in the peace time, some 350,000 Bulgarian Muslims left the country between 1880 and 1911.[38]

Niš and the wider Toplica and Morava regions

On the eve of the outbreak of a second round of hostilities between Serbia and the Ottoman Empire in 1877, the Toplica, Kosanica, Pusta Reka and Jablanica valleys and adjoining semi-mountainous interior was inhabited by a compact Albanian Geg population.[39][40] A mixed Albanian Serbian population also resided in the adjacent Morava river basin.[39] Urban centers such as Kuršumlija were almost wholly Albanian populated and Prokuplje had an Albanian plurality.[39] While Leskovac, Vranje and Niš were inhabited with sizable urban Albanian and partially Turkified Albanian populations, that lived alongside the Serbs.[39] The town of Pirot was the only urban centre inhabited by ethnic Turks.[39] There was also a minority of Circassian refugees settled by the Ottomans during the 1860s, near the then border around the environs of Niš.[41] Estimates vary on the size of the Muslim population within these areas. In his extensive studies of Ottoman population movements, historian Justin McCarthy regarding the Muslim population of the Sanjak of Niş gives the figure of 131,000 Muslims in 1876, with only 12,000 remaining in 1882.[42] Whereas historian Noel Malcolm gives the figure for the Albanian population of the area as numbering around 100,000.[43] Albanian historians such as the late Sabit Uka postulate that 110,000 is a conservative estimate based on Austro-Hungarian statistics and gives a higher figure of 200,000 for the total Albanian population of the area.[44] Other Albanian researchers like Emin Pllana, Skënder Rizaj and Turkish historian Bilal Şimşir place the number of Albanian refugees from the region as numbering between 60-70,000 people.[45][46][47] While Albanologist Robert Elsie estimates the number of Albanian refugees at some 50,000.[48] Jovan Cvijić estimated that the number of Albanian refugees from Serbia was about 30,000[39] a figure which current day Serbian historians such as Dušan Bataković also maintain.[49] That number was accepted by Serbian historiography and remained unquestioned for almost a century.[39] Drawing upon Serbian archive and travelers documents historian Miloš Jagodić believes that the number of Albanians and Muslims that left Serbia was "much larger".[39] Jagodić agrees with Đorđe Stefanović that the number was 49,000 Albanian refugees out of at least 71,000 Muslims that left.[39][28] The departure of the Albanian population from these regions was done in a manner that today would be characterized as ethnic cleansing.[50] Most Albanian refugees were settled in the north-eastern region of Lab alongside the Ottoman-Serbian border, in urban areas and in over 30 settlements located in central and south-eastern Kosovo.[39] Serbs from Lab moved to Serbia during and after the first round of hostilities in 1876, while incoming Albanian refugees thereafter 1878 repopulated their villages.[39]

Hostilities broke out on 15. December 1877, after a Russian request for Serbia to enter the conflict.[39] The Serbian military crossed the border in two directions.[39] The first objective was to capture the city of Niš and the second to break the Niš-Sofia lines of communication for Ottoman forces.[39] After besieging Niš, Serb forces headed south-west into the Toplica valley to prevent a counterattack by Ottoman forces.[39] Prokuplje was taken on the third day of the war and local Albanians fled their homes toward the Pasjača mountain range, leaving cattle and other property behind.[39] Some Albanians returned and submitted to Serbian authorities, while others fled to Kuršumlija.[39] Advancing Serbian forces heading to Kuršumlija also came across resisting Albanian refugees spread out in the surrounding mountain ranges and refusing to surrender.[39] Many personal belongings such as wagons were strewn and left behind in the woods.[39]

Kuršumlija was taken soon after Prokuplje, while Albanian refugees had reached the southern slopes of the Kopaonik mountain range.[39] Ottoman forces attempted to counterattack through the Toplica valley and relieve the siege at Niš, which turned the area into a battlefield and stranded Albanian refugees in nearby mountains.[39] With Niš eventually taken, the Albanian refugees of the Toplica valley were unable to return to their villages.[39] Other Serb forces then headed south into the Morava valley and toward Leskovac.[39] The majority of urban Muslims fled, taking most of their belongings before the Serb army arrived.[39] The Serb army also took Pirot and the Turks fled to Kosovo, Macedonia and some went toward Thrace.[39]

Ottoman forces surrendered Niš on 10. January 1878 and most Muslims departed for Prishtina, Prizren, Skopje and Thessalonika.[39] Serb forces continued their south west advance entering other Albanian populated valleys of Kosanica, Pusta Reka and Jablanica.[39] Serb forces in the Morava valley continued to head for Vranje, with the intention of then turning west and entering Kosovo proper.[39] The Serbian advance in the southwest was slow, due to the hilly terrain and much resistance by local Albanians who were defending their villages and also sheltering in the nearby Radan and Majdan mountain ranges.[39] Serb forces took these villages one by one and most remained vacant.[39] Albanian refugees continued to retreat toward Kosovo and their march was halted at the Goljak Mountains when an armistice was declared.[39]

The Serbian army operating in the Morava valley continued south toward two canyons: Grdelica (between Vranje and Leskovac) and Veternica (southwest of Grdelica).[39] After Grdelica was taken, Serb forces took Vranje.[39] Local Muslims had left with their belongings prior to Serb forces reaching the town, while other countryside Muslims were experiencing tensions with Serbian neighbours who fought against and eventually evicted them from the area.[39] Albanian refugees defended the Veternica canyon, before retreating toward the Goljak mountains.[39] While Albanians who lived nearby in the Masurica region did not resist Serb forces and General Jovan Belimarković refused to carry out orders from Belgrade to deport these Albanians by offering his resignation.[28]

However, most remaining Albanians were forced to leave in subsequent years for the Ottoman Empire and Kosovo in particular.[51] A small number of Albanians were allowed to remain in the Jablanica valley centered around the town of Medveđa, where they still reside today.[52] Serbs from the Lab region moved to Serbia during and after the war of 1876 and Albanian refugees (Muhaxhirë) repopulated their villages.[39] Sizable numbers of Albanian refugees were settled in the Lab area and other parts of northern Kosovo alongside the new Ottoman-Serbian border.[39][53][54] Most Albanian refugees though were resettled in over 30 large rural settlements in central and southeastern Kosovo.[39][53][55] Many refugees were also spread out and resettled in urban centers that increased their populations substantially.[39][53][56] Tensions between Albanian refugees and local Albanians arose over resources, as the Ottoman Empire found it difficult to accommodate to their needs and meager conditions.[57] Tensions in the form of revenge attacks also arose by incoming Albanian refugees on local Kosovo Serbs that contributed to the beginnings of the ongoing Serbian-Albanian conflict in coming decades.[57][58][50] These events in later years would also serve as a possible Serbian solution to the Albanian question in Kosovo and Macedonia for individuals such as Vaso Čubrilović, who advocated similar measures due to their success.[59][34] The regions vacated by Albanians were soon repopulated by Serbs from central and eastern Serbia and some Montenegrins who settled along the border with Kosovo.[60][61] Today, the descendants of these Albanian refugees (Muhaxhirë) make up part of Kosovo’s Albanian population and they are an active and powerful subgroup in Kosovo’s political and economic spheres.[62] They have also established local associations that document and aim to preserve their regional Albanian culture of origin.[63] Many can also be identified by their surname which following Albanian custom is often the place of origin.[64] For example: Shulemaja from the village of Šilomanja, Gjikolli from Džigolj, Pllana from Velika and Mala Plana, Retkoceri from Ratkoceri, Huruglica from Oruglica, Hergaja from Rgaje, Byçmeti from Donji, Gornji and Srednji Bučumet, Nishliu from the city of Niš and so on.[65]


In 1875 a conflict between Muslims and Christians broke out in Bosnia. After the Ottoman Empire signed the treaty at the 1878 Berlin Congress, Bosnia was occupied by Austra-Hungary.[66] Muslim Bosniaks perceived this as a betrayal by the Ottomans and left on their own, felt that they were defending their homeland and not the wider Empire.[66] From 9 July until 20 October 1878 or for almost three months, Muslim Bosniaks resisted Austro-Hungarian forces in nearly 60 military engagements with 5000 casualties either wounded or killed.[66] Some Muslim Bosniaks concerned about their future and well being under the new non-Muslim administration, left Bosnia for the Ottoman Empire.[66] From 1878 until 1918, between 130,000[67] and 150,000 Bosnian Muslims departed Bosnia to areas under Ottoman control, some to the Balkans, others to Anatolia, the Levant and Maghreb.[68] Today, these Bosniak populations in the Arab world have become assimilated although they have retained memories of their origins and some bear the ethnonym Bosniak (rendered in Arabic as Bushnak) as a surname. [69][70][71]


The war continued in the east and after the peace area around [72] Most of them settled around the Anatolian Black Sea coast.

Italo-Turkish War

During the Italo-Turkish War of 1911–12, the 1911 Tripoli massacre took place, where Italian troops committed a series of massacres against the Turkish and Libyan population of the former Ottoman Tripolitania Vilayet (province). The Italians systematically killed over 4,000 civilians by moving through the local homes one by one, including burning several hundred women and children inside a mosque in the Mechiya oasis.[73] Although Italy attempted to prevent the news of the massacres from reaching the outside world, they became internationally known.[73]

Balkan Wars

Turkish refugees running from Bulgarian hostilities, First Balkan War, 1913

In 1912 Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria and Montenegro declared war on the Ottomans. The Ottomans quickly lost territory. According to Geert-Hinrich Ahrens, "the invading armies and Christian insurgents committed a wide range of atrocities upon the Muslim population."[74] In Kosovo and Albania most of the victims were Albanians while in other areas most of the victims were Turks and Pomaks. A large number of Pomaks in the Rhodopes were forcibly converted to Orthodoxy but later allowed to reconvert, most of them did.[75] During this war hundreds of thousands of the Turks and Pomaks fled their villages and became refugees.[76] Thessaloniki and Adrianople were crowded with them. By sea and land mostly they settled in Ottoman Thrace and Anatolia.

World War I and the Turkish War of Independence

Caucasus Campaign

Historian Uğur Ümit Üngör noted that during the Russian invasion of Ottoman lands, "many atrocities were carried out against the local Turks and Kurds by the Russian army and Armenian volunteers."[77] A large part of the local Muslim Turks and Kurds fled west after the Russian invasion of 1916.[78] According to J. Rummel at least 128,000 Muslims were killed by Russian and Armenian troops/irregulars during the war.[79] During January–February 1918 some 10,000 Muslims were killed in Erzincan and Erzurum by retreating Armenian troops.[78]


Cilicia was occupied by the British after World War I, who were later replaced by the French. The French Armenian Legion armed returning Armenian refugees of the Armenian Genocide to the region and assisting them. Eventually the Turks responded with resistance against the French occupation, battles took place in Marash, Aintab, and Urfa. Most of these cities were destroyed during the process with large civilian suffering. In Marash, 4.500 Turks died.[80] The French left the area together with the Armenians after 1920. T retribution for the Armenian Genocide served as justification for armed Armenians.[78]

Greco–Turkish War

Greek Captain Papa Grigoriou - perpetrator of Muslim massacres during the Greco-Turkish War.[81]

After the Greek landing and the following occupation of Western Anatolia after World War I during the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922) the Turkish resistance activity was answered with terror against the local Muslims. Killings, rapes, and village burnings took place as the Greek Army advanced.[82] Historian Taner Akçam noted that a British officer reported as follows:[83]

The National forces were established solely for the purpose of fighting the Greeks..,. The Turks are willing to remain under the control of any other state.,.. There was not even an organized resistance at the time of the Greek occupation. Yet the Greeks are persisting in their oppression, and they have continued to burn villages, kill Turks and rape and kill women and young girls and throttle to death children.

During the Greek occupation, Greek troops and local Greeks, Armenian, and Circassian groups committed the Yalova Peninsula Massacres in early 1921 against the local Muslim population.[84] These resulted, according to some sources, in the deaths of thousands of the local Muslim populace, as well as the total or nearly total burning of tens of towns and massacres of their populations.[85] Precise number of casualties is not exactly known. Statements gathered by Ottoman official, reveal a relatevely low number of casualties: based on the Ottoman enquiry to which 177 survivors responded, only 35 were reported as killed, wounded or beaten or missing. This is also in accordance with Toynbee's accounts that one to two murders were enough to drive out the population.[86] Another source estimates that barely 1.500 Muslims out of 7,000 survived in the environment of Yalova.[87]

The Greeks advanced all the way to Central Anatolia. After the Turkish attack in 1922 the Greeks retreated and Norman M. Naimark notes that "the Greek retreat was even more devastating for the local population than the occupation".[88] During the retreat, towns and villages were burned as part of a scorched earth policy, accompanied with massacres and rapes. During this war, a part of Western Anatolia was destroyed, large towns such as Manisa, Salihli together with many villages being burned.[89] The Inter-Allied commission, consisting of British, French, American and Italian officers found that "there is a systematic plan of destruction of Turkish villages and extinction of the Muslim population."[90]

Dourmouche, a boy wounded and hand cut off during the Yalova peninsula massacres.[81]

The peace after the Greco–Turkish War resulted in a mutual population exchange between Greece and Turkey, between the two countries. As a result the Muslim population of Greece, with the exception of Western Thrace, was relocated to Turkey.[91]

Total casualties

Death toll

Total Muslim deaths and refugees during these centuries are estimated to be several millions.[3] It is estimated that during the last decade of the Ottoman Empire (1912-1922) when the Balkan wars, WWI and war of Independence took place, close to 2 million Muslims, civilian and military, died in the area of modern Turkey.[2] According to the American historian Justin McCarthy, between the years 1821–1922, from the beginning of the Greek War of Independence to the end of the Ottoman Empire, five million Muslims were driven from their lands and another five and one-half million died, some of them killed in wars, others perishing as refugees from starvation or disease.[1] According to Michael Mann all the death figures in the Balkans are contested and McCarthy is seen in this discussion as a scholar on the Turkish side.[92] In the discussion about the Armenian Genocide, McCarthy denies the genocide and is considered as the leading pro-Turkish scholar.[93][94] McCarthy's book The Ottoman Turks has according to Somel an "excessively pro-Turkish attitude".[95]

Settlement of refugees

The Ottoman authorities and charities provided some help to the immigrants and sometimes settled them in certain locations. In Turkey most of the Balkan refugees settled in Western Turkey and Thrace. The Caucasians, in addition to these areas also settled in Central Anatolia and around the Black Sea coast. Eastern Anatolia was not largely settled with the exception of some Circassian and Karapapak villages. There were also completely new villages founded by refugees, for example in uninhabited forested areas. Many people of the 1924 exchange were settled in former Greek villages along the Aegean coast. Outside of Turkey, Circassians were settled along the Hedjaz Railway and some Cretan Muslims at Syria's coast.

Destruction of Muslim heritage

Muslim heritage was extensively targeted during the persecutions. During their long rule the Ottomans had built numerous mosques, madrasas, caravanserais, bath-houses and other types of buildings. According to current research, around 20,000 buildings of all sizes have been documented in official Ottoman registers.[96] However very few survives of this Ottoman heritage in most of the Balkan countries.[97] Most of the Ottoman era mosques of the Balkans have been destroyed and from the ones still standing at least their minarets. Before the Habsburg conquest, Osijek had 8-10 mosques none of which remain today.[98] During the Balkan wars there were cases of desecration, destruction of mosques and Muslim cemeteries.[98] Of the 166 Madrasas in the Ottoman Balkans in the 17th century only 8 remain and 5 of them are near Edirne.[96] The amount of destruction 95-98%.[96] The same is also valid for other types of buildings, such as markethalls, caravanserais and baths.[96] From a chain of caravanserais across the Balkans only one is preserved while there are vague ruins of four others.[96] There were in the area of Negroponte in 1521: 34 large and small mosques, 6 hamams, 10 schools, 6 dervish convents. Today only the ruin of one hamam remains.[96]

Destruction of Ottoman mosques.[96]
Town During Ottoman rule Still standing
Shumen 40 3
Serres 60 3
Belgrade >100 1
Sofia >100 1
Ruse 36 1
Sremska Mitrovica[99] 17 0
Osijek[100] 7 0
Slavonska Požega[101] 14—15 0


There exists literature in Turkey dealing with these events, but outside of Turkey, the events are largely unknown to the world public.

Impact on Europe

According to Mark Levene, the Victorian public in the 1870s paid much more attention to the massacres and expulsions of Christians than to massacres and expulsions of Muslims, even if on a greater scale. He further suggests that such massacres were even favored by some circles. Mark Levene also argues that the dominant powers, by supporting "nation-statism" at the Congress of Berlin, legitimized "the primary instrument of Balkan nation-building": ethnic cleansing.[102]


There is an monument in [103]


See also


  1. ^ a b c McCarthy, Justin Death and Exile: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821-1922, Darwin Press Incorporated, 1996, ISBN 0-87850-094-4, Chapter one, The land to be lost, p. 1.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ Conversion to Islam in the Balkans: Kisve Bahas ̧petitions and Ottoman Social Life, 1670-1730, Anton Minkov, BRILL, 2004, ISBN 9004135766.
  5. ^ The Geography of the Middle East, Stephen Hemsley Longrigg, James P. Jankowski, Transaction Publishers, 2009, ISBN 0202362965, p. 113.
  6. ^ Hall, Richard C. (2002), The Balkan Wars, 1912-1913: prelude to the First World War, Routledge, pp. 136-137
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  19. ^ al-Arnaut, Muhamed Mufaku (1994). "Islam and Muslims in Bosnia 1878-1918: Two Hijras and Two Fatwās”. Journal of Islamic Studies. 5. (2): 245-246. "This being the case, the Muslim Bosnians could no longer imagine any existence for Muslims outside the devlet unless they lived outside the pale of the din, it cannot be denied that the attitude of neighbouring countries had influenced this state of mind. For after two centuries of stability and supremacy dār ar-Islām was no longer immune from attack. Muslims now faced a new, unexpected, inconceivable situation. The triumph of their Christian enemies meant that, in order to survive, the Muslims had to choose either to Christianize and remain inside the Christian state or to emigrate southwards in order to remain Muslims within the Muslim state. Thus we notice that Austria in particular, when changing from the defensive to the offensive, was concentrating on Bosnia, but without its Muslims. in the war of 1737-9 we find Emperor Charles VI, in the edict addressed to the Muslim Bosnians dated June 1737, outlining two options for them: 'whoever of them wishes to adopt Christianity, may be free to stay and retain his property, while those who do not may emigrate to wherever they want' They fared no better in the 1788-91 war, although Emperor Joseph I issued a proclamation in which he promised to respect Muslim rights and institutions. However, despite these pledges, the Muslims quickly disappeared from the areas ceded by the Ottoman Empire."
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  27. ^
  28. ^ a b c Stefanović, Djordje (2005). "Seeing the Albanians through Serbian eyes: The Inventors of the Tradition of Intolerance and their Critics, 1804-1939." European History Quarterly. 35. (3): 466. "Extant class hatred of the Serbian peasants towards urban Muslim merchants and land owners was clearly a major motivator for mass violence. Nenadović describes the take-over of Valjevo by the rebels: At that time . . . there were twenty-four mosques and it was said that there were nearly three thousand Turkish and some two hundred Christian houses. . . . Any house that had not been burnt, the Serbs tore to bits and took their windows and doors and everything else that could be removed."
  29. ^ a b Palairet, Michael R (2003). The Balkan economies c. 1800-1914: evolution without development. Cambridge University Press. p. 28-29. " As the characteristically high urbanization of Ottoman Europe reflected institutional structure rather than economic complexity, the dissolution of Ottoman institutions by the successor states could cause rapid deurbanization. This process occurred in its most striking form in Serbia. In the eighteenth century, Ottoman Serbia was highly urbanized, but during the wars and the revolutionary upheaval of 1789—1815, the Serbian towns experienced a precipitous decline. In 1777, there were reportedly some 6,000 houses in Belgrade,” from which a population of 30,000 — 55,000 may be estimated. By about 1800, the town had shrunk to around 3,000 houses with 25,000 inhabitants, and in 1834 the number of houses had fallen further to 769. Late-eighteenth-century Užice had 2,900 Muslim houses; this indicates a population of around 20,000, for when the last 3,834 Muslims were driven from the town in 1862, they vacated 550 houses. Tihomir Dordević put the population of Užice in the late eighteenth century still higher, at 12,000 houses with about 60,000 inhabitants. By 1860, when Užice’s population was 4,100, but still overwhelmingly Muslim, the effects of the town’s decline were all too visible, the bazaars ‘rotting and ruinous’, and ‘whole streets which stood here before the Servian revolution. . . turned into orchards’. In 1863, after the expulsions, there remained in the town a population of some 2,490. Valjevo in the 1770s was also a substantial place with 3,000 Muslim and 200 Christian houses. At least 5 other towns had 200 — 500 houses each. Given the low population density of Ottoman Serbia, a remarkably high proportion of its inhabitants were town dwellers. Belgrade pašaluk in the late eighteenth century had 376,000 Serbian and 40,000 — 50,000 Turkish inhabitants. On this basis, the two largest towns alone would have accounted for 11—27 per cent of the population of the pašaluk. The urban proportion could have been higher still, for a number of smaller towns dwindled into villages on the departure of the Ottomans.
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ Zulfikarpašić, Adil (1998). The Bosniak. Hurst. p. 23-24. "In accordance with this principle Serbia had been cleansed of Muslims, and even of those Serbs who had converted to Islam and who lived around Užice and Valjevo. In negotiations between Turkey and Serbia they had been declared Turks and forced to move, and so they had resettled in Bosnia. There are still hundreds of families in Tuzla, Šamac, Sarajevo and Foča who are descendants of these immigrants from Užice — Serbian speaking Muslims. This was all a repeat of what had happened a few centuries before in Slavonia and Lika. The region of Lika, for example, was 65 per cent Muslim land until it fell into Austrian hands, when the Muslims were given the choice between expulsion and conversion."
  34. ^ a b c d e f
  35. ^
  36. ^ Jelavich, Barbara (1999), History of the Balkans: Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, Vol. 1, Cambridge University Press, pp.347
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am
  40. ^ Luković, Miloš (2011). "Development of the Modern Serbian state and abolishment of Ottoman Agrarian relations in the 19th century” " Český lid. 98. (3): 298. "During the second war (December 1877 — January 1878) the Muslim population fled towns (Vranya (Vranje), Leskovac, Ürgüp (Prokuplje), Niş (Niš), Şehirköy (Pirot), etc.) as well as rural settlements where they comprised ethnically compact communities (certain parts of Toplica, Jablanica, Pusta Reka, Masurica and other regions in the South Morava River basin). At the end of the war these Muslim refugees ended up in the region of Kosovo and Metohija, in the territory of the Ottoman Empire, following the demarcation of the new border with the Principality of Serbia. [38] [38] On Muslim refugees (muhaciri) from the regions of southeast Serbia, who relocated in Macedonia and Kosovo, see Trifunovski 1978, Radovanovič 2000."
  41. ^
  42. ^ McCarthy, Justin (2000). "Muslims in Ottoman Europe: Population from 1800–1912". Nationalities Papers. 28. (1): 35.
  43. ^
  44. ^ Sabit Uka (2004). Dëbimi i Shqiptarëve nga Sanxhaku i Nishit dhe vendosja e tyre në Kosovë:(1877/1878-1912)[The expulsion of the Albanians from Sanjak of Nish and their resettlement in Kosovo: (1877/1878-1912)]. Verana. pp. 26-29.
  45. ^ Pllana, Emin (1985). "Les raisons de la manière de l'exode des refugies albanais du territoire du sandjak de Nish a Kosove (1878–1878) [The reasons for the manner of the exodus of Albanian refugees from the territory of the Sanjak of Nish to Kosovo (1878–1878)] ". Studia Albanica. 1: 189-190.
  46. ^ Rizaj, Skënder (1981). "Nёnte Dokumente angleze mbi Lidhjen Shqiptare tё Prizrenit (1878–1880) [Nine English documents about the League of Prizren (1878-1880)]". Gjurmine Albanologjike (Seria e Shkencave Historike). 10: 198.
  47. ^ Şimşir, Bilal N, (1968). Rumeli’den Türk göçleri. Emigrations turques des Balkans [Turkish emigrations from the Balkans]. Vol I. Belgeler-Documents. p. 737.
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^ a b Müller, Dietmar (2009). "Orientalism and Nation: Jews and Muslims as Alterity in Southeastern Europe in the Age of Nation-States, 1878–1941." East Central Europe. 36. (1): 70. "For Serbia the war of 1878, where the Serbians fought side by side with Russian and Romanian troops against the Ottoman Empire, and the Berlin Congress were of central importance, as in the Romanian case. The beginning of a new quality of the Serbian-Albanian history of conflict was marked by the expulsion of Albanian Muslims from Niš Sandžak which was part and parcel of the fighting (Clewing 2000 : 45ff.; Jagodić 1998 ; Pllana 1985). Driving out the Albanians from the annexed territory, now called "New Serbia," was a result of collaboration between regular troops and guerrilla forces, and it was done in a manner which can be characterized as ethnic cleansing, since the victims were not only the combatants, but also virtually any civilian regardless of their attitude towards the Serbians (Müller 2005b). The majority of the refugees settled in neighboring Kosovo where they shed their bitter feelings on the local Serbs and ousted some of them from merchant positions, thereby enlarging the area of Serbian-Albanian conflict and intensifying it."
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^ a b c Uka. Dëbimi i Shqiptarëve nga Sanxhaku i Nishit. 2004. pp. 194-286.
  54. ^ Osmani, Jusuf (2000). Kolonizimi Serb i Kosovës [Serbian colonization of Kosovo. Era. pp. 48-50.
  55. ^ Osmani. Kolonizimi Serb. 2000. p. 44-47, 50—51, 54-60.
  56. ^ Osmani. Kolonizimi Serb. 2000. p. 43-64.
  57. ^ a b Frantz, Eva Anne (2009). "Violence and its Impact on Loyalty and Identity Formation in Late Ottoman Kosovo: Muslims and Christians in a Period of Reform and Transformation ." Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. 29. (4) : 460–461. "In consequence of the Russian-Ottoman war, a violent expulsion of nearly the entire Muslim, predominantly Albanian-speaking, population was carried out in the sanjak of Niš and Toplica during the winter of 1877—1878 by the Serbian troops. This was one major factor encouraging further violence, but also contributing greatly to the formation of the League of Prizren. The league was created in an opposing reaction to the Treaty of San Stefano and the Congress of Berlin and is generally regarded as the beginning of the Albanian national movement. The displaced persons (Alb. muhaxhirë, Turk. muhacir, Serb. muhadžir) took refuge predominantly in the eastern parts of Kosovo. The Austro-Hungarian consul Jelinek reported in April of 1878.... The account shows that these displaced persons (muhaxhirë) were highly hostile to the local Slav population. But also the Albanian peasant population did not welcome the refugees, since they constituted a factor of economic rivalry. As a consequence of these expulsions, the interreligious and interethnic relations worsened. Violent acts of Muslims against Christians, in the first place against Orthodox but also against Catholics, accelerated. This can he explained by the fears of the Muslim population in Kosovo that were stimulated by expulsions of large Muslim population groups in other parts of the Balkans in consequence of the wars in the nineteenth century in which the Ottoman Empire was defeated and new Balkan states were founded. The latter pursued a policy of ethnic homogenisation expelling large Muslim population groups.”
  58. ^ Stefanović. Seeing the Albanians. 2005. p. 470. “The ‘cleansing’ of Toplica and Kosanica would have long-term negative effects on Serbian-Albanian relations. The Albanians expelled from these regions moved over the new border to Kosovo, where the Ottoman authorities forced the Serb population out of the border region and settled the refugees there. Janjićije Popović, a Kosovo Serb community leader in the period prior to the Balkan Wars, noted that after the 1876–8 wars, the hatred of the Turks and Albanians towards the Serbs ‘tripled’. A number of Albanian refugees from Toplica region, radicalized by their experience, engaged in retaliatory violence against the Serbian minority in Kosovo. In 1900 Živojin Perić, a Belgrade Professor of Law, noted that in retrospect, ‘this unbearable situation probably would not have occurred had the Serbian government allowed Albanians to stay in Serbia’. He also argued that conciliatory treatment towards Albanians in Serbia could have helped the Serbian government to gain the sympathies of Albanians of the Ottoman Empire. Thus, while both humanitarian concerns and Serbian political interests would have dictated conciliation and moderation, the Serbian government, motivated by exclusive nationalist and anti-Muslim sentiments, chose expulsion. The 1878 cleansing was a turning point because it was the first gross and large-scale injustice committed by Serbian forces against the Albanians. From that point onward, both ethnic groups had recent experiences of massive victimization that could be used to justify ‘revenge’ attacks. Furthermore, Muslim Albanians had every reason to resist the incorporation into the Serbian state.
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^
  62. ^ Blumi, Isa (2011). Foundations of modernity: human agency and the imperial state. Routledge. p. 79. "Refugees from the Niš region that became Serbia after 1878, for instance, settled in large numbers in the regions of Drenica and Gjakova in Kosova since the late 1870s. They are known today as muhaxhir (derived from Arabic, via Ottoman, meaning exile or sometimes a more neutral, immigrant). Like similar groups throughout the world who have informed the nationalist lexicon—Heimatvertriebene, Galut/Tefutzot, al-Laj’iyn, Prosfyges, Pengungsi, Wakimbizi, P’akhstakanner—the "Nish muhaxhir" constitute a powerful sub-group in present-day Kosova’s domestic politics and economy."
  63. ^ Uka, Sabit (2004). E drejta mbi vatrat dhe pasuritë reale dhe autoktone nuk vjetërohet: të dhëna në formë rezimeje [The rights of homes and assets, real and autochthonous that does not disappear with time: Data given in the form of estate portions regarding inheritance]. Shoqata e Muhaxhirëvë të Kosovës. pp. 3-5.
  64. ^ Uka. E drejta mbi vatrat dhe pasuritë. 2004. pp. 52-54.
  65. ^ Uka. E drejta mbi vatrat dhe pasuritë. 2004. pp. 52-54.
  66. ^ a b c d al-Arnaut, Muhamed Mufaku (1994). "Islam and Muslims in Bosnia 1878-1918: Two Hijras and Two Fatwās”. Journal of Islamic Studies. 5. (2): 246-247. "As for Bosnia, the treaty signed at the congress of Berlin in 1878 stunned the Muslims of that country who did not believe that the Ottoman Empire would forsake them so easily, and did not docilely resign themselves to the new Austro-Hungarian rule. They set up a government for their own defence and fiercely resisted the Austro-Hungarian forces for about three months (29 July-20 October 1878), a period which witnessed nearly sixty military clashes and resulted in 5000 casualties either killed or wounded." It may be noted that this stiff resistance was carried out almost exclusively by the Muslims, who were in this instance defending the homeland or vatan (Bosnia) and not the devlet (the Ottoman Empire) which forsook them. The Ottoman government had indeed seen in this resistance an opportunity to improve its own position and scored several points in its favour at the Istanbul Convention of 21 April 1879. For example, it was emphasized that the fact of occupation constituted no infringement of the’ sovereign rights of the sultan over Bosnia, that the Muslims had the right to maintain their ties with Istanbul, that the name of the sultan could be mentioned in the Friday prayer sermon and on similar occasions, and that the Ottoman flag could be raised on the mosques." But this new situation created such a nightmare that some elderly men preferred to confine themselves to their homes rather than see 'infidels’ in the streets. The Muslims, who had not yet recovered from the 1878 shock, were taken aback by the new military service law of 1881 which applied to Muslim youths also. This increased dissatisfaction with the new situation and speeded up hijra to the Ottoman Empire."
  67. ^
  68. ^ al-Arnaut. Islam and Muslims in Bosnia 1878-1918. 1994. p. 243. "As regards Bosnia, we have a hijra that deserves close attention, namely that which took place during the time of Ausrro-Hungarian rule (1878—1918) and evicted about 150,000 Muslims from Bosnia.[5] [5] There are considerable differences in the estimates of the numbers of Bosnians emigrating to the Ottoman empire during the period of Austro-Hungarian rule (1878—191S). The official statistics of the Austro—Hungarian administration admit that 61,000 Muslims emigrated, while Bogičević gives 150,000, Smlatić gives 160,000, and Imamović’s estimate ranges between 150.000 and 180,000. Newspaper estimates rise to 300,000 and popular accounts put a figure as high as 700,000. Official statistics no doubt reduced the number of emigrants to make them equal the number of settlers who stayed in Bosnia (63,376). If we look at Ottoman data, we will find a wide gap between them and the Austro-Hungarian data. The Istanbul High Commissioners Office for Facilitating Refugee Settlement told Hiviz Bjelevac, the Bosnian writer, that during 1900—5 alone 73,000 Muslims left Bosnia, while' Austro-Hungarian statistics give the much smaller number of 13,150. From all that has been said above, a figure like 150,000 will probably be more realistic. See Jovan Cvijić, ‘o iseljavanju bosanskih muhamdanaca’, Srpski književni glasnik XXIV, hr. 12, Beograd 16, VI, 1910, 966; Gaston Gravier, Emigracija Muslimana is BiH’, Pregled, br. 7—8, Sarajevo 15. 1. 1911, 475; Vojslav Bogicević, Emigracija muslimana Bosnei Hercegovine u Tursku u doba austro-ugarske vladavine 1878—1918’, Historijski zbornik 1—4, Zagreb 1958, 175—88; Mustafa Imamović, Pravni poloj i unutrašnjo-polički razvitak BiH od 1878—1914 (Sarajevo, 1976), 108—33; Dževat Juzbalić, Neke napomene o problemtici etničkog i društvenog razviska u Bosne i Hercegovine u periodu austro-ugarake uprave’, Prilozi br. 11—12 (Sarajevo, 1976), 305; Iljaz Hadžibegovi, ‘Iseljavanje iz Bosne i Hercegovine za vri jeme austro-ugarske uprave (1878 do 1918)’, in Iseljaništvo naroda i narodnosti Jugoslavije (Zagreb, 1978), 246—7; Sulejman Smlatić, ‘Iselavanje jugoslovenskih Muslinana u Tursku i njihovo prilagodjavanje novoj sredini’, ibid. 253—3; Mustafa lmamović, ‘Pregled istorije genocida nad Muslimanima u jugoslovenskim zemljama’, Glasnik SIZ, hr. 6 (Sarajevo 1991), 683—5."
  69. ^ Grossman, David (2011). Rural Arab Demography and Early Jewish Settlement in Palestine: Distribution and Population Density during the Late Ottoman and Early Mandate Periods. Transaction Publishers. p. 70.
  70. ^ Cohen, Philip J. (1996). Serbia's secret war: propaganda and the deceit of history. Texas A&M University Press. p. 123.
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  88. ^ Naimark 2002, p.  46.
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  90. ^ Naimark 2002, p.  45.
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  92. ^ "In the Balkans all statistics of death remain contested. Most of the following figures derive from McCarthy (1995: 1, 91, 162-4, 339), who is often viewed as a scholar on the Turkish side of the debate. Yet even if we reduced his figures by as 50 percent, they would still horrify." Michael Mann, The dark side of democracy: explaining ethnic cleansing, Cambridge University Press, 2005, ISBN 0521538548, p. 112.
  93. ^ Door Michael M. Gunter. Armenian History and the Question of Genocide. Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, p. 127
  94. ^ Door Natasha May Azarian. The Seeds of Memory: Narrative Renditions of the Armenian Genocide Across. ProQuest, 2007, p. 14: "...the leading Pro-Turkish academic"
  95. ^ Door Selcuk Aksin Somel. Historical Dictionary of the Ottoman Empire. Scarecrow Press, 2003, p. 336
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  101. ^ scrinia slavonica 12 (2012), 21-26. 21. Nedim Zahirović "U gradu Požegi postojalo je osamdesetih godina 16. stoljeća 10-11 islamskih bogomolja, a 1666. godine 14-15"
  102. ^ Levene, Mark (2005), "Genocide in the Age of the Nation State" pp. 225-226
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