03 November 2014

Gypsies and Palestinians in Egypt

Looking at an old post at this blog I came across a point that deserved recalling. The post was on modern Egyptian ethnic and linguistic demographics. It noted that:
In addition to these linguistic minorities there are communities of Abazas, Turks, and Dom (Gypsies). . . . Estimates of the Dom population range from tens of thousands to a million, an estimate complicated by the apparently common practice of Dom publicly identifying as Palestinian to avoid discrimination.
When self-identifying yourself as Palestinian moves you up the social hierarchy and reduces the discrimination that you face, you know you are in a pretty bad place.

The term "Gypsy", of course, has an origin with the historically inaccurate claim that these people have origins in Egypt (rather than the historically accurate South Asia via Romania), something that visual appearance doesn't immediately rule out as strongly as any other possible ethnicity in the general vicinity of Europe, particularly if one is unfamiliar with the appearance of South Asians themselves.

About 9% of Egyptians are part of some ethnic or linguistic minority.  The 91% majority is made up of speakers of two dialects of Arabic that are about as similar as Spanish and Portuguese, one in Upper Egypt (generally in the South of the Nile Valley) and the other in Lower Egypt (generally in the North of the Nile Valley).

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