Al Salamu 'Alaykum.
Islam in Romania is followed by about 70,000 people, about 2% of the country´s 22 million population, who have become citizens of the European Union since the 1st January of this year. There is an important Muslim community in the Constanta Country. There are also many Muslims living in Bucharest and other big cities. Ethnically, most Muslims are Tatars, although there are also Turks, Albanians and some Muslim Roma, as well as immigrants of some Middle East countries. Muslim Gypsies identify themselves as “Horahane Roma” – Horahane meaning Turkish in the Romani language. Islam first entered Romania in the 13rd century at the hands of Ottoman Turks.
In 1990, the Muslims who studied in Romania founded the Muslim Students Association of Romania with the purpose of protecting the rights of students and to inform Romanians about the Islamic religion. In 1999 the association changed its name into the Cultural Islamic League of Romania. Its headquarters is in Bucharest, but it has offices around the country, in cities such as: Timisoara, Iasi, Cluj Napoca and Constanta.
There are also some Muslim charities in the country, such as the International Tiba Charity in Constanta. This charity organized a charge-free Hayy for Muslim youths who won a series of cultural and religious competitions. “We organized religious and cultural competitions for youths, offering the winners charge-free trips to Saudi Arabia to perform hajj,” Kareem Anjin, the representative of the International Tiba Charity, told Islamonline.net. The number of pilgrims have doubled last year to 350 people compared to 180 in 2005.
The charity co-organized the International Conference on Islam in Europe in October 2005 and brought together representatives of Muslim minorities in up to 40 European countries. The charity has translated dozens of Islamic books into Romanian and issued the first magazine on Islam in Romanian, Islam Today. The magazine comes in 36 coloured pages, Islamonline.net says.
The charity have also launched a campaign to distribute clothes donated by rich Muslims among the poor of the country. In order to promote this campaign, the organization has posted adds in Internet and leaflets inside mosques. “Mosques have been receiving generous donations from remote areas ever since,” said a responsible for the charity to Islamonline.net.
Many Rumanian Muslims have had to fight to overcome some difficulties. One of them is Istan Liliana, who embraced Islam three years ago. Liliana lost her job when she became Muslim and her family and friends abandoned her due to her new religion. She was one of the Romanian pilgrims that visited Mecca last year.
However, Muslim leaders think that there is now religious freedom in the country. “Romania provides an example of religious tolerance and co-existence,” the country´s Islamic mufti, Iusuf Muurat, was quoted as saying by the Ziua daily newspaper on 29th November. Speaking about a controversy on religious symbols at public schools, Muurat said, “Muslims have lived for more than eight centuries in these lands. The existence of other religious symbols in public institutions never bothered us and does not bother us now.”