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|Bosnia and Herzegovina 2,185,055 |
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The Bosniaks or Bosniacs (Bosnian: Bošnjak, pl: Bošnjaci, pronounced [bɔːˈʃɲaːtsi]) are a South Slavic ethnic group, living mainly in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a smaller autochthonous population also present in the Sandžak, Croatia, and the Republic of Macedonia. Bosniaks are typically characterized by their tie to the Bosnian historical region, traditional adherence to Islam, and common culture and language. In the English-speaking world, Bosniaks are also known as Bosnian Muslims or simply Bosnians which is imprecise, because "Bosnian" refers to other ethnicities of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well.
Bosniaks are a South Slavic people. Nevertheless, it is proposed that their 'genetic roots' are also reflective of numerous pre-historic components, especially signatures thought to be 'autochthonous' to the Dinaric region, where the historical Illyrians later appeared There are around two million Bosniaks living in the Balkans today. Once spread throughout the regions they inhabited, various instances of ethnic cleansing and genocide have had a tremendous effect on the territorial distribution of their population. Partially due to this, a notable Bosniak diaspora exists in a number of countries, including Austria, Germany, Australia, Sweden, Turkey and the United States. Both within the region and the outside world, Bosniaks are often noted for their unique culture, which has been influenced by both eastern and western civilizations and schools of thought over the course of their history.
According to the bosniac entry in the Oxford English Dictionary, the first known use of bosniak in English was in "1836 Penny Cycl. V. 231/1 The inhabitants of Bosnia are composed of Bosniaks, a race of Slavonian origin." and it arrived in English either via the French "Bosniaque", or the German "Bosniake", or the Russian "Bosnyak".
The earliest Bosnian "name" was the historical term "Bošnjanin" (Latin: Bosniensis), which signified any inhabitant of the medieval Bosnian kingdom. By the early days of Ottoman rule, the word had been replaced by "Bosniak" (Bošnjak). No consensus exists as to whether the word Bosniak emerged as a Turkified variation of the old Slavic Bošnjanin or as a local linguistic progression where the suffix "-iak" replaced the traditional "-anin". The Bosniaks derive their ethnic name from Bosona (Bosnia), which has been proposed to have an Illyrian origin.
For the duration of Ottoman rule, the word Bosniak came to refer to all inhabitants of Bosnia; Turkish terms such as "Boşnak milleti", "Boşnak kavmi", and "Boşnak taifesi" (all meaning, roughly, "the Bosnian people", were used in the Empire to describe Bosnians in an ethnic or "tribal" sense. However, the concept of nationhood was foreign to the Ottomans at that time - not to mention the idea that Muslims and Christians of some military province could foster any common sur-confessional sense of identity. The inhabitants of Bosnia called themselves various names: from Bosniak, in the full spectrum of the word's meaning with a foundation as a territorial designation, through a series of regional and confessional names, all the way to modern-day national ones.
The generally accepted definition (and the one used in this article) holds that Bosniaks are the Slavic Muslims on the territory of the former Yugoslavia who identify themselves with Bosnia and Herzegovina as their ethnic state and are part of such a common nation. However, individuals may hold their own personal interpretations as well. Some people, such as Montenegrin Abdul Kurpejović, recognize an Islamic component in the Bosniak identity but see it as referring exclusively to Slavic Muslims in Bosnia. Still others consider all Slavic Muslims in the former Yugoslavia (i.e. including the Gorani) to be Bosniaks.
In Yugoslavia, unlike the preceding Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bosniaks were not allowed to declare themselves as Bosniaks. As a compromise, the Constitution of Yugoslavia 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. When Bosnia declared independence from Yugoslavia, most people who used to declare as Muslims began to declare themselves as Bosniaks. In September 1993, the Second Bosniak Congress (Bosnian: Drugi bošnjački sabor) officially re-introduced the historical ethnic name Bosniaks instead of the previously used Muslim in former Yugoslavia. Today, 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 other countries with significant Bosniak populations that constituted former Yugoslavia it is not the case. The effects of this phenomenon can best be seen in the censuses. For instance, the 2003 Montenegrin census recorded 48,184 people who registered as Bosniaks and 28,714 who registered as Muslim by nationality. Although Montenegro's Slavic Muslims form one ethnic community with a shared culture and history, this community is divided on whether to register as Bosniaks (i.e. adopt Bosniak national identity) or as Muslims by nationality. Similarly, the 2002 Slovenian census recorded 8,062 people who registered as Bosnians, presumably highlighting (in large part) the decision of many secular Bosniaks to primarily identify themselves in that way (a situation somewhat comparable to the Yugoslav option during the socialist period). That said, it is important to note that such people represent a minority (even in countries such as Montenegro where it is a significant issue) and that the great majority of Slavic Muslims in the former Yugoslavia have adopted the Bosniak national name.
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||788,403 (30.7 %)||891,800 (31.3 %)||842,248 (25.7 %)||1,482,430 (39.6 %)||1,630,033 (39.5 %)||1,905,829 (43.7 %)|
|Montenegro||387 (0.0%)||8,396 (2%)||30,655 (6.5%)||70,236 (13.3%)||78,080 (13.4%)||89,614 (14.6%)|
|Croatia||1,077 (0.1%)||16,185 (0.4%)||3,113 (0.1%)||18,457 (0.4%)||23,740 (0.5%)||43,469 (0.9%)|
|Macedonia||1,560 (0.1%)||1,591 (0.1%)||3,002 (0.3%)||1,248 (0.1%)||39,512 (2.1%)||35,256 (1.7%)|
|Slovenia||179 (0.0%)||1,617 (0.1%)||465 (0.0%)||3,197 (0.2%)||13,425 (0.7%)||26,867 (1.4%)|
|Serbia||17,315 (0.3%)||79,109 (1.1%)||93,457 (1.2%)||154,364 (1.8%)||215,166 (2.3%)||246,411 (2.5%)|
|Yugoslavia||808,921 (5.1%)||998,698 (5.9%)||972,940 (5.2%)||1,729,932 (8.4%)||1,999,957 (8.9%)||2,347,446 (10.0%)|
Bosniaks emerged as a distinct Slavic group in the fourteenth century, when a portion of the Slavs living in the Bosnian kingdom converted to Islam, brought in by the Ottoman Turks as they conquered much of the Balkans. Nevertheless, many features of Bosniaks' biological, cultural and linguistic origins can be traced back to the Migration Period of the Early Middle Ages. It was then that the Slavs, a people from northeastern Europe, colonized the Eastern Roman Empire with their Avar allies and settled in the regions which now comprise modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina. Here, they assimilated various tribes generically referred to as Illyrians, who were the earliest attestable inhabitants of the region. This fusion with the indigenous population of the region has been suggested by genetic studies, which show that the earliest (genetic) roots of the Bosniak people (as well as those of other ethnic groups in Bosnia) can be traced back to the ancient populations that expanded from the Balkans following the Last Glacial Maximum 21 thousand years ago. These studies have indicated that the dominant Y-chromosome haplogroupI, found in Bosniaks, and specifically its sub-haplogroup I-P37 are associated with these paleolithic settlers. The name Bosnia - derived from the Bosna river - is itself probably of Illyrian origin: Bosona (Bosnian: Bosna) and a testament to the Illyrian heritage of the region.
This fusion gave rise to a new body of peoples - the South Slavs - to which modern Bosniaks, Croats, Serbs, and Montenegrins all belong. Although linguistically very similar, the South Slavs remained separated into numerous tribes during the early medieval period. By the 9th century, some gradually coalesced into political entities. The first reference to, Bosnia was in the De Administrando Imperio, describing it as a chorion of Serbia. It was a much smaller region than the modern-day state, being roughly demarcated by the river Bosna and the river Drina.
After frequent change of rule over the area between medieval Croatian, Dukljan, Serb, Bulgarian and Byzantine rule, a semi-independent banovina arose in the eleventh century, although still nominally ruled by foreign powers. These foreign rulers tried to gain the loyalty and cooperation of the local people by attempting to establish religious jurisdiction over Bosnia. Some of the Slavs in Bosnia, however, established the Bosnian Church, an indigenous Christian sect considered heretical by both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Although it would not last, it enjoyed popular support from a large number of Bosnians. Eventually, an independent Bosnian kingdom flourished in central Bosnia between the fourteenth and the fifteenth centuries, and even expanded into neighbouring Serb and Croat regions. However, even with the emergence of a Bosnian Kingdom, there was no concrete overall Bosnian ethnic identity. The state lacked a dominant religious denomination which could act to cement a sense of unity. Individual communities tended to predominantly be a certain denomination, however the distribution was entirely haphazard.
Thus, the lack of a centralized rule and the polarising influences of Catholic powers (Croatia and Hungary) and Orthodox powers (Serbia and Byzantium) created a medieval Bosnia with an unclear ethnic affiliation. To quote Noel Malcolm in response to Croat and Serb claims on medieval Bosnia, from the book "Bosnia A Short History":
As for the question of whether the inhabitants of Bosnia were really Croat or really Serb in 1180, it cannot be answered, for two reasons: first, because we lack evidence, and secondly, because the question lacks meaning. We can say that the majority of the Bosnian territory was probably occupied by Croats - or at least, by Slavs under Croat rule - in the seventh century; but that is a tribal label which has little or no meaning five centuries later. The Bosnians were generally closer to the Croats in their religious and political history; but to apply the modern notion of Croat identity (something constructed in recent centuries out of religion, history, and language) to anyone in this period would be an anachronism. All that one can sensibly say about the ethnic identity of the Bosnians is this: they were the Slavs who lived in Bosnia.
The emergence of a Muslim Slavic element in Bosnia was the result of the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans. Throughout the whole of Balkans, people converted in small numbers to Islam in order to escape the burden of taxation and resulting social discrimination. However, in Bosnia, large-scale conversions to Islam were prevalent. This left the landscape as a checkerboard of Muslim, Catholic, and Orthodox villages existing side by side. By the early modern ages, there was a near equal split of Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim Slavs in Bosnia following no clear geographic delineation.
With the decay of the Ottoman Empire, Serbia became independent from Ottoman control in 1870, whilst Bosnia was occupied by Austria-Hungary in 1878. It was the time of a concomitant "re-awakening" of Serbian and Croatian nationalism. Both Serbs and Croats claimed 'historical rights' to Bosnia. However, members of the 19th century Illyrian movement, most notably Ivan Frano Jukić, emphasized Bosniaks alongside Serbs and Croats as one of the "tribes" that constitute the "Illyrian nation". A huge number of Bosniaks left Bosnia and Herzegovina after Austrian occupation. Official Austro-Hungarian records show that 56,000 people, mostly Bosniaks, emigrated between 1883 and 1920, but the number of Bosniak emigrants is probably much larger, as the official record does not reflect emigration before 1883, nor include those who left without permits. Those who stayed were concentrated in urban areas. They were particularly proud of their cosmopolitan culture, especially in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, which soon became one of the most ethnically mixed cities in the former Yugoslavia. Ideas proposing a pan-South-Slavic state had already been present prior to World War I, although several models were proposed as to the exact composition for a future South Slav state. In order to confront constant influence from Serbia and Croatia on Orthodox and Catholic population of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the administration of Benjamin Kallay, the Austria-Hungarian governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina, promoted the idea of one united Bosniak nation that would include Christians, not just Muslims. The idea was fiercely opposed by Croatian and Serbian nationalists.
Being a newly independent sovereign state, Serbia acted as a center of stimulus for South Slavic nationalism, a policy that would lead to conflict with Austria-Hungary. Bosnia and Herzegovina had always been a multi-ethnic region, but under the influence of Serbia and Croatia, Orthodox and Catholic inhabitants living in Bosnia wished for unification with their respective kin. With the dawn of Illyrian movement, Muslim intelligentsia gathered around magazine Bosnia in the 1860s promoted the idea of a Bosniak nation. A member of this group was father of Safvet-beg Bašagić, a famous poet. This Bosniak group would remain active for several decades, with the continuity of ideas and the use of the archaic Bosniak name. From 1891 until 1910, they published a magazine titled Bosniak. The Austrian policy further clouded the Bosnian ethnic issue and made the Bosniak group seem as pro-regime. After Kallays death in 1903, the official policy slowly drifted towards accepting the three-ethnic reality of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
At the outbreak of World War I, Bosnians were drafted into the K. und K. (the Slavic contingent of the Austro-Hungarian army in World War I), some chose to desert rather than fight against fellow Slavs, whilst some Muslims attacked Bosnian Serbs in apparent anger after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. "One can only guess what kind of feeling was dominant in Bosnia at the time. Both animosity and tolerance existed at the same time". After World War I, although Muslims were not acknowledged as a distinct ethnic group (in the Kingdom of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs), the religious distinction and different social interests of the Muslims was recognised. Politically, change proved difficult in Bosnia, given that the old landowning, and predominantly Muslim, aristocracy in Bosnia resisted any change such as land reforms. Their reason was complacency about giving up their formerly privileged status in the face of what was to be a Serb dominated government, whilst it was seen as holding onto a "Turkish past" by non-Muslims. The land reforms put in place by the Serbian crown changed this picture immensely. With the emergence of mass politics, and a rising Serb and Croat industrialist and bourgeoisie class in Bosnia, the first serious ethnic rifts came into being. During World War II, Bosnian Muslim clerics issued three declarations (fatāwa), all publicly denouncing Croat-Nazi collaborationist measures against Jews and Serbs: that of Sarajevo in October 1941; of Mostar in 1941; and of Banja Luka on 12 November, 1941  By the New Year of 1943, over 100,000 Bosnian Muslims had been killed (9% of Bosniaks at the time) mostly by Serb Chetniks and 250,000 had been expelled from their homes.  "The Muslims" remarked one German General, "bear the special status of being persecuted by all others". Germans soon exploited the situation and raised a Bosnian Muslim SS division on 10 February, 1943 offering Bosniaks protection from Serb attacks. On the other hand, a number of Muslims joined the Yugoslav Partisan forces, "making it a truly multi-ethnic force".
During the Yugoslav period, Bosniaks were simply referred to as Muslims by nationality, something Bosniaks viewed as neglecting and opposing to their Bosnian identity. During the Bosnian war, the Muslims officially restored their historical name Bosniaks.
Bosniak folklore has a long tradition dating back to the 15th century. Like many other elements of Bosniak culture, their folklore is derived from European and Ottoman influences, typically taking place prior to the 19th century. Generally, folklore also varies from region to region and city to city. Cities like Sarajevo and Mostar have a rich tradition all by themselves. Many man-made structures such as bridges and fountains, as well as natural sites, also play a significant role. At the very roots of the Bosniak folk soul are the national music genres called Sevdalinke and Ilahije.
National heroes are typically historical figures, whose life and skill in battle are emphasised. These include figures such as Gazi Husrev-beg, the second Ottoman governor of Bosnia who conquered many territories in Dalmatia, Northern Bosnia, and Croatia, Gerz Eljaz Đerzelez Alija, an almost mythical character who even the Ottoman Sultan was said to have called "A Hero", and Husein Gradaščević, who led an uprising against the Turks in the 18th century. Old Slavic influences can also be seen, such as Ban Kulin who has acquired legendary status. The historian William Miller wrote in 1921 that "Even today, the people regard him as a favorite of the fairies, and his reign as a golden age." Characters such as fairies, Vila, are also present. Pre-Slavic influences are far less common but nonetheless present. Certain elements of Illyrian, and Celtic belief have been found.
Bosniaks speak the Bosnian language. This language differs only slightly from the Serbian or Croatian language in writing and grammar, but its speakers are, on the level of colloquial idiom, more linguistically homogeneous than either Serbs or Croats. The Bosnian language has a number of orientalisms as well as Germanisms not often used in the neighboring languages. The language forms in many ways a middle ground between the Serbian and Croat languages, not least because Bosnia itself is geographically situated in the middle of the region where the "Serbo-Croat"-dialects are spoken.
Bosniaks have also had two of their own unique scripts. The first was the Begovica (also called Bosančica), a descendant of local Cyrillic script that remained in use among the region's nobility. The second was the Arabica, a version of the Arabic alphabet modified for Bosnian that was in use among nearly all literate Bosniaks until the 20th century (compare with Morisco Aljamiado). Both alphabets have practically died out, as the number of people literate in them today is undoubtedly minuscule.
Most Bosniaks are Sunni Muslim, but some number of them are atheist, agnostic or deist. This is due to the secular humanist world view that was prevalent during the times of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Today in Bosnia-Herzegovina most Bosniaks belong to the Sunni branch of Islam. Historically, Sufism has also played a significant role in the country.
Bosniak surnames, as is typical among the South Slavs, often end with "ić" or "ović". This is a patronymic which basically translates to "son of" in English and plays the same role as "son" in English surnames such as Johnson or Wilson. What comes prior to this can often tell a lot about the history of a certain family.
Most Bosniak surnames follow a familiar pattern dating from the period of time that surnames in Bosnia and Herzegovina were standardized. Some Bosniak Muslim names have the name of the founder of the family first, followed by an Islamic profession or title, and ending with ić. Examples of this include Izetbegović (Son of Izet bey), and Hadžiosmanović ("son of Osman Hajji"). Other variations of this pattern can include surnames that only mention the name, such as Osmanović ("son of Osman"), and surnames that only mention profession, such as Imamović ("son of the Imam").
Some Bosniak names have nothing Islamic about them, but end in ić. These names have probably stayed the same since medieval times, and typically come from old Bosnian nobility, or come from the last wave of converts to Islam. Examples of such names include Tvrtković and Kulenović.
Yet some Bosniaks have surnames that do not end in ić at all. These surnames are typically derived from place of origin, occupations, or various others such factors in the family's history. Examples of such surnames include Zlatar ("goldsmith"), Fočo or Tuco.
Many Bosniak national names are of foreign origin, indicating that the founder of the family came from a place outside of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Many such Bosniak surnames have Hungarian, Vlach or Turkish origins. Examples of such surnames include Vlasić and Arapović.
Many Bosniak surnames are also common as Croatian and Serbian surnames: Puškar, Sučić, Subašić, Begić, Hadžić.
First names among Bosniaks have mostly Arabic, Turkish, or Persian roots such as Osman, Omer, Mehmed, Arif, Kemal, Edib, Hasan, Ibrahim, Džafer, Murat, Abdurrahman. South Slavic names such as "Zlatan" are also popular primarily among non-religious Bosniaks. What is notable however is that due to the structure of the Bosnian language, many of the Muslim names have been altered to create uniquely Bosniak names. Some of the Arabic names have been shortened. For example: Huso short for Husein, Ahmo short for Ahmed, Meho short for Mehmed, Avdo short for Abdullah.
The best known Bosniak national symbol is the Fleur-de-lis (Lilium Bosniacum) and crescent moon. The most popular Bosniak symbols are derived from medieval times, from the old flag of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and from the flag of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They were used by King Tvrtko Kotromanić and the intention was that they represent Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole, but the flag was not commonly accepted by the Serb and Croat leadership, which led to the flag being associated with Bosniaks, although some Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs still venerate the flag.
The earliest Bosniak flags date from the Ottoman era, and are typically a white crescent moon and star on a green background. The flag was also the symbol of the short lived independent Bosnia in the 19th century and of the resistance against the Turks led by Husein Gradaščević.
The nation takes pride in the melancholic folk songs sevdalinka, the precious medieval filigree manufactured by old Sarajevo craftsmen, and a wide array of traditional wisdom transmitted to newer generations by word of mouth, but in recent years written down in numerous books. Another prevalent tradition is "Muštuluk", whereby a gift is owed to any bringer of good news.
Today, a national consciousness is found in the vast majority of Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the country, Bosniaks make up a large majority in the Bosna river valley and western Bosnian Krajina, with significant populations found in Herzegovina. Currently, they are estimated to make up 48% of the total population.
National consciousness has also spread to most Bosniaks in the neighboring countries. The largest number of Bosniaks outside of Bosnia and Herzegovina are found in Serbia and Montenegro (specifically in the Sandžak region). The city of Novi Pazar is home to the largest Bosniak population outside of Bosnia. Another 40,000 Bosniaks are found in Croatia and 38,000 in Slovenia. However, some of them still identify themselves as "Muslims" or "Bosnians", according to latest estimates. In Macedonia there are estimated to be about 17,000 Bosniaks.
Due to warfare and ethnic cleansing during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a large part of the world's ~4,4 million (est.) Bosniaks are found in countries outside of the Balkans. The highest Bosniak populations outside of the ex-Yugoslavian states are found in the United States, Sweden, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, and Turkey. Prior generations of Bosniak immigrants to some of these countries have by now been mostly integrated.
Regarding the Western countries most of the Bosniaks are war refugees that only arrived in these countries during the past 15 years or so. They still speak Bosnian, and maintain a cultural and religious community and visit their mother country regularly.
The United States is home to about 130,000 (est.) Bosniaks, the cities with the highest Bosniak populations are St. Louis and Chicago. The following major American cities, ordered randomly, have notable Bosniak communities: Richmond, Virginia; Charlotte; Indianapolis; Houston; Jacksonville; Phoenix; Portland, Oregon; San Jose; Salt Lake City; Tampa, Florida; and New York City.
In the United States there are also significant Bosniak communities in the following places, in no specific order: Lawrenceville, Georgia; Waterloo, Iowa; Utica, New York; Hamtramck, Michigan; Bowling Green, Kentucky; Erie, Pennsylvania; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Hartford; Louisville; Seattle; Northbrook, Illinois; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Clearwater, Florida; and Manchester, New Hampshire. These places do not have as many Bosniaks as those mentioned before but the Bosniaks in these cities typically make up a considerably larger percentage of the total population.
In Turkey, Bosniaks mostly live in the Marmara Region which is in other words the north-west Turkey. The biggest Bosniak community in Turkey is in Istanbul and also there are notable Bosniak communities in İzmir, Karamürsel, Yalova, Bursa and Edirne.