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The meaning and origin of the expression: Ethnic cleansing

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Ethnic cleansing

What's the meaning of the phrase 'Ethnic cleansing'?

The expression 'ethnic cleansing' is a euphemism for the ruthless removal or killing of an ethnic or religious group from areas that have been taken over by opposing forces.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Ethnic cleansing'?

Although the process has been engaged in since antiquity the term didn't enter the English language until the Balkan wars of the 1990s. The earliest citation of a phrase similar to it is from the New York Times, July 1982:

"The nationalists have a two-point platform, according to Becir Hoti, an executive secretary of the Communist Party of Kosovo, first to establish what they call an ethnically clean Albanian republic and then the merger with Albania to form a greater Albania."

The precise phrase appears first in the Indianna Gazette, January 1991:

They [the Bosnian Army] are widely considered responsible for the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II, including the "ethnic cleansing" of Bosnia and Croatia.

See other phrases that were coined in the USA.

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