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Muslims (Bosnian, Croatian:Muslimani; Serbian and Macedonian: Муслимани) was a term used in Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as an official designation of nationality of Slavic Muslims. They were one of the constitutive groups of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In connection to the national rebirth and awakening in Yugoslavia during the 1990s they are officially recognized as Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina, like before 1910s. Approximately 100,000 people across the former Yugoslavia still consider themselves to be Muslims by nationality, while other self-identify as Bosniaks, and to a lesser extent Gorani, Torbeš (Macedonian: Торбеш) or Pomaks. The two latter names are also used by Slavic Muslims living outside of the former Yugoslavia, mainly in Bulgaria where they form a part of the wider Slavic demographic majority, and also where they live as minorities in non-Slavic countries such as Greece and Turkey.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire officially introduced the term Bosniaks for Slavic Muslims who lived in Bosnia; prior to it, it was used to describe a resident of Bosnia regardless of nationality or religion. Their official census varied over the years in how it grouped communities, whether by ethnicity, language or religion. After World War I, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was formed and it recognized only those three ethnicities in its censuses.
After World War II, the Constitution of Yugoslavia recognized narodi (nations—native peoples which were explicitly named in the Constitution, giving them special privileges) and narodnosti (nationalities, with status comparable to that of minorities). The first post-war censuses allowed people to register as the aforementioned ethnicities as well.
In a debate that went on during the 1960s, many Bosniak communist intellectuals argued that Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina are in fact a native Slavic people that should be recognized as a nation. But the name Muslims was sometimes rejected - to quote Bosniak politician and president Hamdija Pozderac:
They don't allow Bosnianhood but they offered Muslimhood. We shall accept their offer, although the name is wrong, but with it will start the process.—In discussion with Josip Broz Tito in 1971 about constitutional changes which recognized Muslims, later Bosniaks
As a compromise, the Constitution was amended in 1968 to list Muslims by nationality recognizing a nation, but not the Bosniak name. The Yugoslav "Muslim by nationality" policy was considered by Bosniaks to be neglecting and opposing their Bosnian identity because the term tried to describe Bosniaks as a religious group not an ethnic one.
Sometimes other terms, such as Muslim with capital M were used (that is, "musliman" was a practicing Muslim while "Musliman" was a member of this nation; Serbo-Croatian uses capital letters for names of peoples but small for names of adherents).
On the other hand, some still use the old name Muslimani (Muslims), especially outside Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The election law of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, recognizes the results from 1991 population census as results referring to Bosniaks.
- In Serbia, the census of 2002 that covered Central Serbia and Vojvodina (but not Kosovo) registered 19,503 Muslims by nationality and 136,087 Bosniaks.
- In Montenegro census of 2003, 24,625 (3.97%) of the population have declared as Muslims by nationality, 48,184 (7.77%) have declared as Bosniaks, while 57,100 (9.51%) have declared as Montenegrins.
- In the Republic of Macedonia, the census of 2002 registered 17,018 (1,15%) Bosniaks and 2,553 (0.13%) Muslims by nationality. It is also important to note that most members of Pomaks and Torbeš ethnicities also declared as Muslims by nationality prior to 1990.
- The Croatian South Slavic Muslim community continues to include people who use Muslims as a nationality - 19,677 in the 2001 census, and 7,558 (6,704 declared Muslims by religion) in the 2011 census, while the Bosniaks of Croatia are the largest minority practicing Islam in Croatia.
- In 2002 Slovenia census, 21,542 persons identified as Bosniaks; 8,062 as Bosnians, while 10,467 chose Muslims by nationality.
- Imamović, Mustafa (1996). Historija Bošnjaka. Sarajevo: BZK Preporod. ISBN 9958-815-00-1
- Statistics Office of Republic of Serbia. Population by nationality
- Statistics Office of Republic of Macedonia - Државен завод за статистика:Попис на населението, домаќинствата и становите во Република Македонија, 2002: Дефинитивни податоци (PDF) (Macedonian)
- Population by ethnicity - 2001 Croatian Census (Croatian)
- Croatian 2001 census, detailed classification by nationality
- "4. Population by ethnicity and religion". Census of Population, Households and Dwellings 2011. Croatian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
- Statistics Office of Republic of Slovenia - Statistični urad Republike Slovenije: 7. Prebivalstvo po narodni pripadnosti, Slovenija, popisi 1953, 1961, 1971, 1981, 1991 in 2002