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Monika Bulaj June 29, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Belarus.

Tartars Mosque. Minsk, Belarus 2004

Monika Bulaj (b. 1966, Poland) studied  Philosophy at Warsaw University. She has explored the world of nomads, minorities, immigrants and outcasts in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Monika has published six books of the photography and creative non -fiction reportage and has participated in numerous exhibitions. Her photographs have been published in: La Republica, Corriere della Sera, GEO, National Geographic and others. Her work has been awarded by: The Aftermath Project Grant 2010, Bruce Chatwin special price for photography “The Absolute Eye” 2009, and the TED Global Fellowship 2011. She is based in Italy.

About the Photograph:

“The Belorussia Tartars are an incredible synthesis between Christianity and Islam. They read the Koran in Slavic, written in Arabic letters. They make use of incense in their Mosques, and spread it with the same passion as the Popes. They sing the Salah, the Muezzin prayers following the Byzantine polyphonic music. They cover the bodies of the dead with fragments of their Sacred Books, challenging one of the strictest Islamic taboos, that forbids  one to set the Koran under the ground. But there is more: the sins of the dead can be alleviated by the living, with the same Catholic logic of indulgences. Once a year they visit the graves of their dead to share food with them. They cry and talk, as the Byelorussian farmers of the good old times. They pray only on Fridays, but for hours, much longer than any other Muslims. They have survived the darkest years of Stalinism. They paid unaffordable taxes to the regime and have managed to always keep their Mosques open.”