According to Ottoman statistics, Macedonia in the 19th century had one of the largest percentages of Muslims in the Empire's European provinces: 41.7%. Despite the Sublime Porte's efforts (Hatt-i-Sherif issued of Gyulhane in 1839) to change the social status quo -- by granting basic rights to Ottoman citizens regardless of religion -- the Muslims could not tolerate being on an equal footing with the "infidels".
View of the town of Monastir
Lithograph, 19th century
Their resentment prolonged and deepened the social gulf at a time when Greek education was making steady progress in Macedonian schools in Thessaloniki, Ochrid, Monastir, Edessa, Veroia and elsewhere. In the context of the Ottoman reforms of 1856 (Hatt-i-Humayun), all the Empire's religious communities undertook to draw up "ethnic (or general) rules and regulations". Implemented in the 1860s, these were to bring considerable social changes in the years to come.