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Passion Islam I October 2008 SPECIAL FEATURE I 27
less than those within the Commonwealth. Tatar community formed one of the most the Association of Polish Tatars was
Finally, in 1674, after the Polish victory at vibrant national minorities of Poland. The restored.
Chocim, the Lipka Tatars who held the Muslim Religious Association (est. 1917) Changes in recent years
Podolia for Turkey from the stronghold focused on preserving the Muslim faith Apart from the traditional Tatar
of Bar were besieged by the armies of and religious beliefs. At the same time the communities, since the 1970s Poland has
Jan Sobieski, and a deal was struck that Cultural and Educational Association of also been home to a small but growing
the Lipkas would return to the Polish Polish Tatars worked on the preservation immigrant Muslim community.
side subject to their ancient rights and and strengthening of Tatar culture and In the 1970s and 1980s Poland
privileges being restored. All the Tatars traditions. In 1929 a Tatar National attracted a number of students from many
were pardoned by Sobieski and most of Museum was created in Wilno and socialist-aligned Arabic-speaking states
them took part in his campaign against in 1931 a Tatar National Archive was of the Middle East and Africa. Many of
Turkey resulting in the brilliant victory in formed. All the Muslim people drafted into them decided to stay in Poland. In the
the battle of Vienna. The Lipka Rebellion the army were sent to the Tatar Cavalry late 1980s this community became more
forms the background to the novel Pan Squadron of the 13th Cavalry Regiment, active and better organized. They have
Wołodyjowski, the final volume of the which was allowed to use its own uniforms built mosques and praying houses in
Nobel Prize winning historical Trylogia of and banners. The Army Oath for Muslim Warsaw, Białystok, Gdańsk (built by the
Henryk Sienkiewicz. The 1969 film of Pan soldiers was different from the one taken Tatar community), Wrocław, Lublin and
Wołodyjowski, directed by Jerzy Hoffman from soldiers of other denominations Poznań. There are also praying rooms
and starring Daniel Olbrychski as Azja and was sworn in presence of Ali Ismail in Bydgoszcz, Kraków, Łódź, Olsztyn,
Tuhaj-bejowicz, was one of the largest Woronowicz, the Chief Imam of the Polish Katowice and Opole[5].
box-office success in the history of Polish Army. Since the overthrow of Communism
cinema. During and after World War II, the Tatar in 1989, other Muslim immigrants have
Although by 18th century most of the communities of Poland suffered the fate come to Poland. A relatively prominent
Tatars serving in the military had become of all the civilian populations of the new group are Turks and Muslims from the
polonized, while the lower classes of the German-Soviet and later Polish-Soviet former Yugoslavia. There are also smaller
Muslim community gradually adopted the borderlands. The Tatar intelligentsia was groups of immigrants from Pakistan,
Ruthenian language (the predecessor of in large part murdered in the AB Action, Afghanistan, and from other countries, as
the modern Belarusian language), the while much of the civilian population was well as a small refugee community coming
Sunni and tatar traditions were preserved. targeted by post-war expulsions. After from Chechnya (about 1,000 persons).
This led to formation of a distinctive the war the majority of Tatar settlements Several thousand ethnic Poles have
Muslim culture of Central Europe, in which were annexed by the Soviet Union and also converted to Islam[citation needed].
elements of Muslim orthodoxy mixed with only three remained in Poland (Bohoniki, Over seven thousand of them have taken
religious tolerance and a relatively liberal Kruszyniany and Sokółka). However, a shahada online[citation needed] on the
society. For instance, the women in Lipka considerable number of Tatars moved Polish Islamic Association website.
Tatar society traditionally had the same across to the Polish side of the border The exact number of Muslims living
rights as men, were granted equal status and settled in several locations in eastern is Poland remains unknown as the last
and could attend common non-segregated Poland (esp. in Białystok and nearby all-national census held by the Central
schools. towns) as well as in western and Statistical Office in 2002 did not ask for
In 20th century Poland northern Poland (esp. in Gdańsk religion. 500 people declared Tatar (rather
By the beginning of the twentieth and Gorzów Wielkopolski). than Polish) nationality. Typical estimates
century, Lipka Tatars had become so Nowadays not more than 400 place the number of all Tatars in Poland
integrated into Polish society that they -4,000 Muslims of Tatar origin at somewhere around 3,000 - 5,000,
joined their Roman Catholic brethren in the lives in Poland and a much the number of all Muslims around
mass migrations for the United States that larger and active Tatar community 30,000.
gave rise to American Polonia and even lives in Belarus and also in There are two contemporary Polish
founded their own mosque in Brooklyn, Lithuania. In 1971 the Muslim Muslim religious leaders: Tomasz
New York which is still in use today. Religious Association was Miśkiewicz and Jakub
In 1919, at the outbreak of the Polish- reactivated and since Szynkiewicz.
Bolshevik War, two of the Tatar officers 1991 the Society of
serving with the Polish Army Col. Maciej Muslims in Poland
Bajraszewski and Capt. Dawid Janowicz- is also active.
Czaiński started forming a Tatar cavalry The following
regiment fighting alongside the Polish year also
Army. This unit transformed into a squadron
after the war, continued the traditions of
Tatar military formations of the Polish-
Lithuanian Commonwealth and became
one of the most notable achievements
of the Polish Tatar community in 20th
century[4]. With the restoration of Polish
independence, the Tatar community of
Poland numbered around 6,000 people
(according to the 1931 national census
), mostly inhabiting the regions of Wilno,
Nowogródek and Białystok Voivodeship
(1919-1939)s. A large community of the
Lipka Tatars remained outside of Polish
borders, mostly in Lithuania and Belarus
(especially in Minsk, the capital of the
Belarusian SSR). Although small, the
The Tatarian mosque at the village of Bohoniki
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