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

Bushnak (Arabic: بشناق‎, meaning "Bosnian" or "Bosniak", also transliterated Bushnaq, Boshnak and Bouchnak) is a surname common among Palestinians who are 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 Palestine within the Ottoman empire.

While not originally from one family, most Bosnians who emigrated to Palestine 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 Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan.

In Palestine, these Bosnian emigrants settled predominantly in villages in the northern 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 Arab population of Palestine.

One of the most historically prominent Bosnian-Palestinians was Jezzar Pasha, who was the Ottoman ruler of Acre and the Galilee from 1775 until his death.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Amira Hass (25 October 2002). "It's the pits". Original in Haaretz, reprinted by Ta'ayush. 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.