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Balkan Egyptians

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Title: Balkan Egyptians  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Albania, Montenegro, Romani people, Demographics of Albania, Demographics of Kosovo, Music of Egypt, Minorities of Romania, Demographics of Montenegro, Romani people by country, Names of the Romani people
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Balkan Egyptians

Total population
30,000-50,000 Ashkali[1]
5,000+ Egyptians
Regions with significant populations

 Kosovo 15,436 Ashkali + 11,524 Balkan Egyptians (2011 census)[a]
 Albania 3368 Balkan Egyptians (2011 census)
 Montenegro 2,054 Egyptians (2010)
 Macedonia 3,713 Egyptians (2002)

 Serbia 1,834 Egyptians (2011) and 997 Ashkali (2011)[2]
predominantly Islam

The Ashkali (also Hashkali, Aškalije (Ашкалије), Haškalije (Хашкалије)) and Balkan Egyptians (Jevgs, Egjiptjant or Gjupci) are Albanian-speaking ethnic minorities (recognized communities) of Kosovo and Albania. Historically, they are Albanized Romanies, but they do not self-identify as such. Prior to the Kosovo War of 1999, they registered themselves as ethnic Albanians. Now they are divided by identifying with two different groups.[1] During the Kosovo War, they were displaced as refugees in Albania and the Republic of Macedonia. The "Ashkali" identity was created in in 1999, as they tried to show their pro-Albanian stance and distinguish themselves from the Roma.


The "Ashkali" or "Egyptians" have been classed as a "new ethnic identity in the Balkans", formed in 1990s.[4] The name "Ashkali" comes from the Turkish root-word As (Has). It was earlier applied to sedentary Roma who settled in Albanian areas during Ottoman Empire times. The Ashkalija speak Albanian as their first language. Ashkalija often worked as blacksmiths, or manual laborers on Ottoman estates. Ashkalija are found mainly in eastern and central Kosovo.

A 14th-century reference to a placename (Агѹповы клѣти, Agupovy klěti) in the Rila Charter of Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria is thought to be related to the Balkan Egyptians according to some authors, such as Konstantin Josef Jireček.[5][6]

In 1990, an "Egyptian association" was formed in Ohrid, Macedonia. During the Kosovo War, Albanized Roma were displaced as refugees in Albania and the Republic of Macedonia. Many Ashkali fought in the Kosovo Liberation Army. Albanized Roma formed the ethnic group Ashkali after the end of the war in 1999, to show their pro-Albanian stance and distinguish themselves from the Roma, who had been negatively viewed as pro-Serbian during the war. Many Albanized Roma were also sent to refugee camps with other Roma, with whom they did not share the same language and customs.[1] As the majority of Kosovo (or Albanized) Roma, many Ashkali refugees settled in Serbia and Montenegro. There they were identified as Romano-Palestinians. The first Ashkali party (Democratic Party of the Ashkali Albanians of Kosovo) was formed in 2000 under Sabit Rrahmani, who supported Kosovo independence in the name of all Ashkali.[1]

In Kosovo, the Ashkali were aligned with Albanians before, during and after the Kosovo War.[1] However, Ashkali, along with Romani Gypsies from Kosovo, have reportedly been expelled from the area.[7]


Most Ashkali and Egyptians live in Kosovo and Republic of Macedonia, but the peoples also reside in Albania, Serbia and Montenegro. In the Macedonian census of 2002, 3,713 people self-identified as "Egyptian". In the Serbian census of 2002 (excluding Kosovo), 814 people self-identified as "Egyptian". In the Montenegrin census, 225 people self-identified as "Egyptian" or "Palestinian Judas" from Ashkelon.

Ashkali are predominant in the central and eastern regions of Kosovo: Uroševac, Kosovo Polje and Lipljan. Egyptians live in western Kosovo: in Đakovica, Istok, Peć and Dečani. The Ashkali/Egyptian community of Kosovo had 98% unemployment in 2009.[8]

While Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptians claim ethnic differences among them, they frequently intermarry. But, overall marriages between Roma and non-Roma (Gadje, outsiders) are extremely rare. Egyptians, Roma, and Ashkalija do not classify one another as Gadje.[8] The Ashkali and Roma claim the Egyptians as their own; whereas the Ashkali and Egyptians dispute over each other's background.[1] No television or radio channels are dedicated to Askhali or Egyptian minority audiences.[8]

See also



a.   ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Kosovo. The latter declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. Kosovo's independence has been out of United Nations member states.

Cited works

  • Dragan Novaković, Potomci faraona u Srbiji, DT Magazin, 4. April 1998.

External links

  • Differences of prejudices and collective blames toward to the Balkan’s Egyptians
  • Egjiptianëve Kosovarë
  • Union of Balkan's Egyptians
  • )
  • New Democratic Initiative of Kosovo, based in Switzerland
  • Minority Rights Group
ar:مصريو البلقان
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