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The Combat of the Giaour and Hassan by Eugène Delacroix (1826, oil on canvas, Art Institute of Chicago). Inspired by Lord Byron's poem The Giaour.

Giaour or Gawur or Ghiaour, written gâvur in modern Turkish (Turkish pronunciation: [ɟaˈʋur], /aʊər/, from Persian: گور‎‎ gaur), is an offensive religious and ethnic slur, which is used by Muslims in Turkey and the Balkans to describe all who are non-Muslim. It was thoroughly used during the Ottoman Empire, when it referred to the Christian population under Ottoman dominion, namely Greeks,[1][2] Armenians, Bulgarians, Serbs,[3] Romanians, and Assyrians. The term is considered highly offensive by Christians in the Balkans.

The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica described the term as follows:

Giaour (a Turkish adaptation of the Persian gdwr or gbr, an infidel), a word used by the Turks to describe all who are not Muslims, with especial reference to Christians. The word, first employed as a term of contempt and reproach, has become so general that in most cases no insult is intended in its use; similarly, in parts of China, the term foreign devil has become void of offence. A strict analogy to giaour is found in the Arabic kafir, or unbeliever, which is so commonly in use as to have become the proper name of peoples and countries.

European representations[edit]

Giaour is the name given to the evil monster of a man in the tale Vathek, written by William Thomas Beckford in French in 1782 and translated into English soon after. The spelling Giaour appears in the French, as well as in the English translation.

Lord Byron published his poem "The Giaour: A Fragment of a Turkish Tale" in 1813, whose themes revolve around the ideas of love, sex, death, and afterlife in Western Europe and Ottoman Turkey.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ James Lewis Farley, Turks and Christians, Adamant Media Corporation, ISBN 1-4021-8786-6
  2. ^ James Finn. Stirring Times, Or, Records from Jerusalem Consular Chronicles of 1853 To 1856, 2004, p. 12
  3. ^