Circassian diaspora

Circassian diaspora

The Circassian diaspora refers to the resettlement of the Circassian population, especially during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. From 1763 to 1864, the Circassians fought against the Russian Empire in the Russian-Circassian War, finally succumbing to a scorched-earth campaign initiated in 1862 under General Yevdokimov.[1][2] Afterwards, large numbers of Circassians were exiled and deported to the Ottoman Empire; others were resettled in Russia far from their home territories.[3][4] Circassians live in more than fifty countries, besides the Republic of Adygea.[5] Total population estimates differ: according to some sources, some two million live in Turkey, Jordan, and Syria;[6] other sources have between one and four million in Turkey alone.[7]


Middle East


The Circassians in Turkey are with 2 millions (2,7% of the Turkish population)[8][9] of the Turkish population one of the largest ethnic minority in Turkey.


The Circassian diaspora may date back to the end of the fourteenth century: the Circassian population in Egypt claims its descendance from the Mamluks who, during the Mamluk Sultanate, ruled Egypt and Syria.[10]

Nineteenth-century resettlements

A large number of Circassians began arriving in the Levant in the 1860s and 1870s through resettlement by the Ottoman Empire, in many cases for political or military reasons. The Ottomans settled them in areas with Muslim minorities and populations that were otherwise of concern to the government; moreover, the dispersion of the Circassians, a warrior people, diminished their possible military threat. An estimated 600 Circassian villages are in Central and Western Anatolia. Likewise, Circassians who moved to Jordan were settled there to counter possible Bedouin attacks. There is a sizeable Circassian population in Syria, which has, to a great extent, preserved its original culture and even its language.[11]


Syria is home to approximately 100,000 Circassians (data from 1987), about half of whom live in Hauran province,[12] and many of the Circassians used to live in the Golan Heights. During the time of the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon (1920-1946), Circassians served with the French troops, earning them enduring distrust from the Syrians.[13] The Circassians of Syria were actively involved in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Their unit was under the leadership of Jawad Anzor. 200 Circassians were killed in action. They performed well, but the overall failure to stop the founding of Israel led to the special Circassian unit being disbanded.[citation needed] After the Six-Day War of 1967, they withdrew further into Syria, especially to Damascus and Aleppo. They were prevented from returning to the Golan Heights by Israeli occupying forces, but after 1973 some of the returned, now living in two villages, Beer Ajam and Barika, where they maintain a traditionally Circassian way of life.[14]

The Circassians in Syria are generally well off. Many of them work for the government, in civil service, or for the military. The former Syrian interior minister and director of the military police, Bassam Abdel Majeed, was a Circassian.[15] All Circassians learn Arabic and English in school; many speak Adyghe language, but their numbers are dwindling. One kindergarten in Damascus provides Adyghe language education. However there are no Circassian newspapers, and few Circassian books are printed in Syria.[citation needed] Cultural events play an important role in maintaining the ethnic identity of the Circassians. During holidays and weddings, they perform folk dances and songs in their traditional dress.[16]

Circassians in Jordan

Circassians in Jordan are the most well of Circassians from all over the world, as a start the capital city of Jordan, Amman was first settled by Circassians from the shapsough tribe in the year of 1878 since then Circassians have had a major role in the development of Jordan. Circassian in Jordan have high positions in the Jordanian government, armed forces, air force and police, and since 1921 Circassian have been given the position to be his late majesty King Abdullah the first, personal trusted royal guards. Tell this day Cicassians have been the royal guard, serving all 4 kings of Jordan Kings, King Abdullah the first, King Talal the first, King Hussien the first and king Abdullah the second. In 1932 the Circassian Charity Association was established making it the second oldest charity group in Jordan. In 1944 Al-Ahli club was founded which is a Circassian Sports club in, 1994 the Al-Ahli Club established a Circassian folklore Dance troupe. In 1950 Al-Jeel Al-jadeed club opened aiming to preserve the Circassian Culture. In 2009 the Circassian Culture Academy was founded aiming to preserve the Circassian Language also known as Adyghe language and the Kabardian language they are both the same language but different accents. The Circassian Culture Academy also has a Circassian Folklore Dance troupe named the Highlanders. On May 21st 2011 the Circassian community in Jordan organised a protest in front of the Russian embassy opposing the Sochi 2014 winter Olympics because they will be held over the mass graves of Circassians during the Circassian genocide.

Circassian in Israel

Circassians in Israel There are few thousand Circassians, living mostly in Kfar Kama (2,000) and Rehaniya (1,000).[17] These three villages were a part of a greater group of Circassian villages around the Golan Heights. As is the case with Jewish Israelis, and like the Druze population living within Israel, Circassian men must complete mandatory military service upon reaching the age of majority. Many Circassians in Israel are employed in the security forces, including in the Israel Border Police, the Israel Defence Forces, the Israel Police and the Israel Prison Service.[citation needed] [18].[19]

Eastern Europe

Around 1600, a number of immigrants from the Caucasus region, of somewhat privileged background, settled in the then Principality of Moldavia, and became known by the name "Cerchez" (pronounced [Cherkez] in Romanian). There, they constituted one of the principality's 72 boyar families.[citation needed] In time they were assimilated into the general population. However, one of the last descendants of this family, Mihail Christodulo Cerchez, was a Romanian national hero in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 (Osman Paşa, the Turkish commander of the Pleven garrison, who was an Adyge himself, surrendered his sword to Cerchez at the end of the siege).[POV? ] One of the main halls of the Cotroceni Palace in Bucharest is named "Sala Cerchez" ("Cerchez Hall") in memory of General Cerchez.[POV? ]

A small minority of Circassians had lived in Kosovo Polje since the late 1880s, as mentioned by Noel Malcolm in his seminal work about that province, but they were repatriated to the Republic of Adygea in southern Russia in the late 1990s.[20]

Current situation

Circassians refer to their diaspora as a genocide; the diaspora is "perhaps the most pressing issue in the region and the most difficult to solve." In 2006, the Russian State Duma refused to accept a petition by the Circassian Congress that would have called the Russian–Circassian War an act of genocide.[6] Hazret Sovmen, President of the Republic of Adygea from 2002 to 2007, referred to the Circassian diaspora as an enduring tragedy and a national catastrophe, claiming the Circassians live in more than fifty countries across the world, most of them far from their "historical homeland."[21] The International Circassian Organization promotes the interests of Circassians, and the advent of the internet has brought "a sort of virtual Circassian nation" into being.[22]

See also


  1. ^ Allen and Muratoff 107-8.
  2. ^ Shawkat.
  3. ^ Brooks[page needed].
  4. ^ Shenfield.[page needed]
  5. ^ Richmond 2.
  6. ^ a b Richmond 172-73.
  7. ^ Stokes 152.
  8. ^ UNPO: Tscherkessien
  9. ^ Ülkü Bilgin: Azınlık hakları ve Türkiye. Kitap Yayınevi, Istanbul 2007; S. 85. ISBN 9756051809 (Turkish Language)
  10. ^ Hille 50.
  11. ^ Hille 50.
  12. ^ "Syria."
  13. ^ "Syria."
  14. ^ Stokes 154-55.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Syria."
  17. ^ "Circassians in Israel". Circassian World. 
  18. ^ Michael Slackman, "Seeking Roots Beyond the Nation They Helped Establish" "New York Times," August 10, 2006
  19. ^ "Circassians in bid to save language: Diaspora in Jordan attempt to revive their ancient language before it dies out." Al Jazeera English, May 14, 2010
  20. ^ "Circassians flee Kosovo conflict."
  21. ^ Richmond 1-2.
  22. ^ Richmond xii.

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