Komuniteti Ashkali dhe Komuniteti i Egjiptianëve të Ballkanit
|Regions with significant populations|
|Christianity (Albanian Orthodox, Albanian Catholic), Islam (Sunni, Bektashi)|
The Ashkali (Serbian: Ашкалије, romanized: Aškalije), also Hashkali (Serbian: Хашкалије, romanized: Haškalije), and Balkan Egyptians (Serbian: Балкански Египћани, romanized: Balkanski Egipćani; Albanian: Komuniteti i Egjiptianëve të Ballkanit; Macedonian: Ѓупци, romanized: Gjupci) are Albanian-speaking ethnic cultural minorities (recognized communities), unrelated to each other, which mainly inhabit Kosovo, and in the case of Balkan Egyptians Albania as well. Due to lack of studies, the communities in Kosovo are often grouped together based on their skin colour. Prior to the Kosovo War of 1999, the Ashkali people registered themselves as Albanians.
During the Kosovo War, Kosovo's Ashkali people were displaced as refugees in Albania, Serbia and Macedonia and the whole of Western Europe, such as Germany and France. The Ashkali identity was created in 1999, as they tried to show their pro-Albanian stance and distinguish themselves from the Roma.
The origins of these peoples are obscure. The Ashkali people claim that they have originated in Persia, now Iran, in 4th century BC (Ashkal, Gilan, Iran). There are other theories of the Ashkali coming from Turkey in a village called Aşkale (Erzurum district of Turkey), or possibly have migrated millennia ago from the city of Ashkalon (Israel). Some Balkan historians trace the origin of Balkan Egyptians to the Iron Age, citing vague references in Herodotus of the presence of Egyptians in the region. They also attribute archaeological structures in the area, notably in modern Ohrid and Bitola, as temples of the Goddess Isis. However, historians of the broader Roma community maintain that during the Ottoman era the 'Balkan Egyptians' and other Balkan Roma were part of a single community, called Kıbti (literally 'Copts', reflecting the same group encompassed by the English ethnonym for the Roma, 'Gypsies'). They see the alternative origins as part of a larger phenomenon whereby groups such as the Ashkali and Balkan Egyptians, as part of an effort to achieve greater civil emancipation and to escape anti-Roma prejudice, made an effort to separate themselves from other Roma and constructed a novel history for their peoples.
A 14th-century reference to a placename (Агѹповы клѣти, Agupovy klěti) in the Rila Charter of Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria is thought by some authors, such as Konstantin Josef Jireček, to be related to the Balkan Egyptians.
In 1990, an "Egyptian association" was formed in Ohrid, North Macedonia, which was attended by representatives from different Balkan countries.
During the Kosovo War, Albanized Roma were displaced as refugees in Albania and the Republic of Macedonia. 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 mistakenly 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. As the majority of Kosovo (or Albanized) Roma, many Ashkali refugees settled in Serbia and Montenegro. 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.
In Kosovo, the Ashkali were aligned with Albanians before, during and after the Kosovo War. However, Ashkali, along with Romani Gypsies from Kosovo, have reportedly been expelled from the area.
It's important to note that the Ashkali are not related to Balkan Egyptians, although they're often incorrectly grouped together by the Media because of their darker skin pigmentation, as well as their status as native Albanian speaking minorites.
Most Ashkali live in Kosovo and North Macedonia, but they also reside in Serbia and Montenegro, while most Balkan Egyptians are thought to live in Albania, other than Kosovo. In the Macedonian census of 2002, 3,713 people identified as Egyptian, while in the Serbian census of 2002 (excluding Kosovo), 814 people identified as Egyptian. In the Montenegrin census, on the other hand, 225 people identified as Egyptian.
Ashkali are predominant in the central and eastern regions of Kosovo: Ferizaj, Fushë Kosova, and Lipjan. Kosovo's Egyptian community is mostly to be found in its western part: in Gjakova, Istog, Peja, and Deçan. The Ashkali as well as the Egyptian community of Kosovo had 98% unemployment in 2009.
In Albania, however, the Balkan Egyptian community is fully integrated into Albanian society and culture, having a high educational and employment rate as well, although a good percentage of the community do not identify as Balkan Egyptian because of negative stereotypes about coloured people. Despite the fact that most Balkan Egyptians tend to have typical Mediterranean features, fair skin and light features are not uncommon.
Marriages between Balkan Egyptians and Albanians are more frequent than marriages between Roma and Albanians, while marriages between Balkan Egyptians and Romani people are rare. In Albania, Balkan Egyptians are fully integrated into Albanian culture and have followed their regional traditions and customs.
In Kosovo, on the other hand, Roma and Ashkalia do not classify one another as Gadje. The Ashkali and Roma claim the Egyptians as their own; whereas the Ashkali and Egyptians dispute over each other's background. No television or radio channels are dedicated to Kosovo's Ashkali or Egyptian minority audiences.
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|a.||^ The political status of Kosovo is disputed. Having unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, it is formally recognised as an independent state by 97 UN member states (with another 15 recognising it at some point but then withdrawing recognition), while Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory.|