Habesha peoples is a term most frequently employed to refer to semetic language speaking Christian peoples of highland Ethiopia and Eritrea. Recently, the term has been applied by some within diasporic communities to refer to all people of Eritrean or Ethiopian origin.
Historically, the term "Habesha" represented northern Ethiopian Highlands Orthodox Christians, while the Oromos and "Shanqella" ethnic groups, as well as Muslims, were considered outside the periphery. Predominately Muslim ethnic groups in the Eritrean Highlands such as the Tigre have historically opposed the name Habesha; Muslim Tigrinya-speakers are usually referred to as Jeberti people. At the turn of the 20th century, elites of the Solomonic dynasty employed the conversion of various ethnic groups to Orthodox Tewahedo Christianity and the imposition of the Amharic and Tigrinya languages to spread a common Habesha national identity.
Within Ethiopian and Eritrean diasporic populations in North America, some second generation immigrants have adopted the term "Habesha" in a broader sense as a supra-national ethnic identifier inclusive of all Eritreans and Ethiopians. For those who employ the term, it serves as a useful counter to more exclusionary identities. However, this usage is not uncontested: On the one hand, those who grew up in Ethiopia or Eritrea may object to the obscuring of national specificity.On the other hand, groups that were subjugated in Ethiopia or Eritrea sometimes find the term offensive.
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