In the winter of 1984-85 Bulgaria's large Turkish community was forced to change their Islamic names, a ban on speaking Turkish in public was introduced, mosques were closed or destroyed, the wearing of traditional Turkish clothes was forbidden.
Oppression backfired: Bulgaria's Muslims moved to the forefront of the struggle for democracy. In the spring of 1989 they went on hunger strikes, their movement spread. Special forces moved into compact ethnic Turkish areas, shots were fired at unarmed civilians, several people were killed.
A few days later the Communist leader Todor Zhivkov announced that the "Islamised Bulgarians" can go to Turkey. More than 300.000 left within weeks, causing Europe's largest single exodus after the end of WWII.