hidden europe 62

The home of Esperanto

by hidden europe


Who was Dr Esperanto (Dr Hope)? He was an ophthalmologist by profession, but he is most remembered for his love of languages. The good doctor’s real name was Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof and he is best remembered as the creator of Esperanto. He came from one of Europe’s most multilingual communities: Białystok in north-east Poland.

The town of Białystok in north-east Poland, mentioned in our feature above, is the regional centre for the nearby Muslim communities on Polish territory which, after the Second World War, found themselves separated from fellow Muslims in Lithuania and Belarus (which were both part of the Soviet Union). These days Białystok is home to several Islamic organisations, hosting the headquarters of the Muslim Religious Union in Poland, a Muslim college and a Muslim library. Although recent migration has led to a big increase in the number of Muslims in major Polish cities — notably Warsaw, Gdańsk and Kraków — it is the relatively small town of Białystok, far from any of the great cities, which acts as the administrative focus of Islamic life in Poland.

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