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Shabak people

Shabak Flag.jpg
An unofficial flag used by some Shabaks
Total population
(500,000 - 550,000)
Regions with significant populations
Shabaki, Kurdish, Arabic

The Shabak people (Arabic: الشبك‎‎) are an ethno-religious group. They speak Shabaki, a Northwestern Iranian language of the Zaza–Gorani group. In addition to the Shabaks, there are three other ta'ifs, or sects, which make up the Bajalan, Dawoody and Zengana groups. About 90 percent of Shabaks follow Shabakism and the rest of the population are Yarsani or Shia.

A 1925 survey estimated Shabak numbers at 100,000. In the 1970s, their population was estimated to be around 15,000. Modern estimates of Shabak population range from 500,000 to 550,000.

Shabak are composed of three tribes: the Hariri, the Gergeri, and the Mawsilî.

The origins of the word Shabak are not clear. One view maintains that Shabak is an Arabic word شبك meaning intertwine, indicating that the Shabak people originated from many different tribes. The name "Shabekan" occurs among tribes in Tunceli, Turkey and "Shabakanlu" in Khorasan, which is located in the northeast region of Iran.

Austin Henry Layard considered Shabak to be descendants of Persian Kurds, and believed they might have affinities with the Ali-Ilahis. Other theories suggested that Shabak originated from Anatolian Turkomans, who were forced to resettle in the Mosul area after the defeat of Ismail I at the battle of Chaldiran.


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