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Bushnak (Arabic: بشناق‎, meaning "Bosnian" or "Bosniak", also transliterated Bushnaq, Boshnak and Bouchnak) is a surname common among Levantines of Bosnian origin.[1][2][3] Those sharing this surname are the descendants of Bosnian Muslims apprehensive of living under Christian rule after the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878, who emigrated to Ottoman Syria.

Bosnian mosque in Caesarea.JPG
The Bosniak mosque in Caesarea, Israel
Regions with significant populations
mainly Levant, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan), Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
Bosniaks in Turkey

While not originally from one family, most Bosnians who emigrated to the Levant adopted Bushnak as a common surname, attesting to their origins. Bushnak is also used colloquially among Palestinians to refer to someone who is fair-skinned and good looking. [1]



Some Bosnian movement to Palestine occurred when Bosnian Muslim soldiers were brought to Palestine in the late 1800s to provide reinforcements for the Ottoman army.[1][3]

More substantial movement occurred after 1878, when the Austro-Hungarian empire, ruled by the House of Habsburg, occupied Bosnia. Bosnian Muslim emigration continued through this period, escalating after the Austro-Hungarian's 1908 annexation of Bosnia. Many emigrated to parts of what is now modern Turkey, while a smaller number settled in Ottoman Syria (modern Syria, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan).

Bosnian emigrants settled predominantly in villages in the parts of the present day West Bank and Israel: Caesarea (Qisarya), Yanun, Nablus and Tulkarem.[1][2][3] Their descendants still live in these villages, their Bosnian heritage reflected in the Arab surname of Bushnak.[3]

The Bosnian Muslim immigrants who settled in Caesarea in 1878 built two mosques, joining other Muslim immigrants from Morocco, Algeria, Crimea, the Caucasus, and Turkestan. These Slavic speaking immigrants eventually assimilated into the local Arab population.

Notable people bearing the surnameEdit

See alsoEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d Amira Hass (25 October 2002). "It's the pits". Original in Haaretz, reprinted by Ta'ayush. Archived from the original on 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2008-11-12.
  2. ^ a b Ibrahim al-Marashi. "The Arab Bosnians?: The Middle East and the Security of the Balkans" (PDF). p. 4. Retrieved 2008-11-12.
  3. ^ a b c d Cohen & Riesman 1996, p. 123.