Zaza people

ethnic group in eastern Anatolia
(Redirected from Zazas)

The Zazas (also known as Zazaki or Dimili)[7] are an Iranian people in eastern Turkey who traditionally speak the Zaza language, a western Iranian language written in the Latin script. Their homeland is made of Tunceli and Bingöl provinces and parts of Elazığ, Erzincan and Diyarbakır provinces.[3] Zazas might[8] say that they are Kurds.[9][6][10][11] They are often named Zaza Kurds by scholars.[7][12][13][14][15]

Geographic distribution of Zaza speakers (darker green) among Iranian speakers[1]
Total population
2 to 3 million[2]
Regions with significant populations
Diaspora: Approx. 300,000[3]
Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States[4][5]
Zaza, Kurmanji Kurdish,[4] and Turkish
Mainly Shafiʽi school of Sunni Islam and minority Alevism[6] and Hanafism

The reason Zazas are comsidered Kurdish is speculated to be "control". In an area hard to control, Zazas were grouped with Kurdish people to assimilate and break them from their roots.

In an effort to preserve their culture and declare they are a seperate nationality, Zazas founded ZAZA-DER Archived 2020-05-13 at the Wayback Machine. In the page about their sociological and historical roots Archived 2024-03-19 at the Wayback Machine, it is extensively explained with sources that Zazas are a seperate nationality with different language, culture and etimology.


Zaza woman from Tunceli Province



Predominantly Zazas adhere to Sunni Islam.[16] According to a 2015 study that examined the voting-age adults of the Eastern and Southern Anatolia 75.4% of the people who stated that they were ethnically Zazas belonged to the Shafiʽi school of Islam, similar to Kurdish groups, but in contrast to local Turkish and Arab people who were majority Hanafi.[17] Shafi‘i followers among the Zaza people are mostly Naqshbandi.[18]



Alevism is the second largest Islamic sect among Zazas with 14.8% adhering to it. Zazas had the highest Alevi percentage among any group by far, being followed by Turks (5.4%) and Kurds (3.1%). It was also reported that around 70% of the Alevis spoke Zazaki as their mother language. Zaza Alevis mainly live around Tunceli Province. Hanafism, which is the biggest Islamic school in both Turkey and among the Turkish and Arabic people in the region, is followed by 9.8% of Zazas.[17]

Historically, a small Shia Zaza population existed in Gerger.[16]

  1. Gippert 1999.
  2. Endangered Language Alliance.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Asatrian (1995).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ziflioğlu (2011).
  5. Arakelova (1999), p. 400.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Kehl-Bodrogi, Otter-Beaujean & Kellner-Heikele (1997), p. 13.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Malmîsanij (1996), p. 1.
  8. Kehl-Bodrogi (1999), p. 442.
  9. Arakelova (1999), p. 397.
  10. Mosaki (2012).
  11. Postgate (2007), p. 148.
  12. Taylor (1865), p. 39.
  13. van Bruinessen (1989), p. 1.
  14. Özoğlu (2004), p. 35.
  15. Kaya (2009).
  16. 16.0 16.1 Werner 2012, p. 24, 29.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Yeğen, Mesut (January 2015). "Kürt Seçmenlerin Oy Verme Dinamikleri: Kuzeydoğu-Ortadoğu ve Güneydoğu Anadolu Alt Bölgelerinde Seçmenin Siyasal Tercihlerinin Sosyolojik Analizi" (PDF) (in Turkish).
  18. Kalafat 1996, p. 290.



Further reading