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Shabak (Iraq)

شبك, Şabbak, شەبەک

Last modified: 2020-07-31 by ian macdonald
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image by Chrystian Kretowicz, 19 Feb 2011
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[The] Shabak is/are a people, a religion and a language, all belonging to northern Iraq. More specifically, they live in the region of Mosul, and are united in culture and language, but they cover more than one ethnic group and among them there is more than one religion.
Their numbers are very hard to assess, being between 60,000 and 400,000 spread among 35 villages, of which Ali Rach, Yangija, Khazna and Talara are the largest. LookLex uses the number 100,000 to assess their number, but this is highly uncertain.
Throughout their history, the Shabaks have been considered a low class in the Iraqi society, although there are few reports of persecution, despite them being defined outside the Ahl al-Kitab, the people of the book. Still, during recent decades, the Shabak have faced the hardship of being dislocated, as an initiative of the central Iraqi authorities to destroy their cultural identity.
A common theory, is that the Shabak are of Turkmen origins, and migrants from Persia in the 17th century.
A large part of the Shabak are also related to the Kurds. Their name is a reflection of their ethnic diversity, in Arabic 'shabak' means "intertwine" and subgroups of the Shabak are known as Gergari, Bajalan, Hariri and Mosul.
Their history in brief:

  • 17th century: Probable immigration of the Shabak from Persia into the Nineveh plain of Mesopotamia
  • 1952: The Shabak is recognized as a distinct ethnic group.
  • 1980's: About 22 villages, 3000 families are dislocated to the north of Iraq.
  • 2003: Kurdish troops move into Shabak areas, and come to define them as "Kurd Shabaks."
  • 2005: Shabaks demonstrate for being treated as an independent group. Gunmen from the KDP shoot at the crowd, injuring several." (LooLex Encyclopedia)
Chrystian Kretowicz, 19 Feb 2011


The flag above has a "fat" star, different than the "skinny" one offered at Wikimedia Commons.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 19 Feb 2011