Romani people in Syria

Gypsies (Domari / Nawar)
in Syria
Flag of the Romani people.svg
Domari / Romani flag
Total population
250–300,000 (est.)
Domari and Arabic
Related ethnic groups

The Domari-speaking (or rather, historically speaking) community in Syria, commonly identified as Dom and Nawar (and simply "gypsies" in English), is estimated to number 100–250,000[1] or 250–300,000 people.[2] The vast majority is sedentary.[1] There are semi-nomadic groups, some moving outside the country.[2] In Aleppo, the Dom community is probably the largest, while they are reported to live in Damascus, Homs and Latakia as well.[3] The community is highly marginalised in society, and they are referred to as Qurbāṭ (ʾərbāṭ in Aleppo) and Qarač in the northern part, and Nawar (widely used in the Levant) elsewhere.[3] These terms are used for various groups that mainly share socio-economic profile.[3] The community is divided into clans.[3]

The Domari are believed to have migrated from India via Persia. They seem to have been an Indian nomadic caste specializing in metalwork and entertainment.[4] The language is Indo-Aryan, closely related to Central Indian and Northwest Indian.[4] The Dom language (Domari) in the Middle East is known as Nawari.[5] Domari shows Turkic, Kurdish and Arabic influence.[5] There has been a language shift into Arabic.

The exonym "Nawar" could be used sometimes offensively, denoting a contemptible and immoral lifestyle associating them with beggars, itinerants, and thieves.[6]

During the Syrian civil war, there were several reports regarding Syrian Dom immigrants in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.[7][8][9][10][11]

See also


  1. ^ a b Berland & Rao 2004, p. 73.
  2. ^ a b Williams 2001.
  3. ^ a b c d Herin 2012.
  4. ^ a b Matras 2012, p. 1.
  5. ^ a b Law 2014, pp. 138–139.
  6. ^ Berland, Joseph C. (2004). Customary Strangers: New Perspectives on Peripatetic Peoples in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers. p. 71. ISBN 0-89789-771-4. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
  7. ^ Proposal for a Regional Social Inclusion Strategy Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan
  8. ^ The Dom: The Other Asylum Seekers from Syria Report
  9. ^ Inventory study on adaptation of Syrian refugees to civil life in Turkey
  10. ^ Suriyeli Dom Göçmenler: En Alttakiler
  11. ^ Dom Research Center



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