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5 Aralık 2009 Cumartesi

Circassian Diaspora

Prior to Russian expansion into Circassian territory there were approximately two million Circassians living in an area from the Don and the lowlands east of the Sea of Azov south through the mountains and along the coast of the Black Sea, past the western borders of Ossetia and Chechnya, across the Kuban River, down through the present day Abkhazia.

From 1763 to 1864 the Circassians fought against the Russians in the Russian Circassian War only succumbing to a scorched earth campaign initiated in 1862 under General Yevdokimov. Afterwards, large numbers of Circassians fled and were deported to the Ottoman Empire, others were resettled in Russia far from their home territories.

Middle East

Circassian troops in Damascus during the French mandate period with Colonel Collet, commander of the Circassian Cavalry.

Various communities of Caucasian origin living in the Middle East, notably Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, and Syria, are known as Circassians, and a suburb of Damascus settled by these people is called Al-charkassiyya. Modern Amman was reborn after Circassians settled there in 1878. Other important Jordanian towns re-established by Circassians in 1878 were Jerash and Wadi Seer.

During the French Mandate period in Syria, in the 1930s, some Circassians in the mostly Circassian town of Al-Quneitra tried to convince the French authorities to create a Circassian national home for them in the Golan Heights, but failed in their attempt. The objective was to group there large numbers of Circassians already living in Turkey and in various Middle Eastern countries just like Jordan, Syria, Lebanon Egypt .

In Israel, there are also a few thousand Circassians, living mostly in Kfar Kama (2,000) and Reyhaniye (1,000). These two villages were a part of a greater group of Circassian villages around the Golan Heights. The Circassians in Israel enjoy, like Druzes, a status aparte. Circassian men (at their leader's request) are mandated for military service, while women are not.

The Balkans

A small minority of Circassians lived since the late 1880's in Kosovo Polje, which was given mention 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 1990's.

Around 1600, several emigrants from the Caucasus region, of somewhat privileged descent, settled in the then Principality of Moldavia, and became under the name "Cerchez" (pronounced [Cherkez] in Romanian) one of its 72 boyar families. 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, surrendered his sword to him at the end of the siege). One of the main halls of the Cotroceni palace in Bucharest is named "Sala Cerchez" ("Cerchez Hall") in memory of General Cerchez.

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