As part of the Ottoman Empire, sections of Yugoslavia were under Islamic Turkish rule until as late as the 19th century. Among the different flavors of belief practiced in Islam is a mystical variety known as Sufism, which has an offshoot group of followers known as Dervishes. Since people in the Balkans inherit their religious affiliations along with their names, in time the term "Dervish" came to indicate a person's clan allegiance as much as a group's religious beliefs. In this story, an honest and thoughtful young Dervish is appalled when his brother is tortured and killed by Muslim authorities. When a change in government in Istanbul leads the young Dervish to replace his brother's murderers in authority, he hopes to change the government's oppressive ways in his region but confronts complex politics and bureaucratic inertia.
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