Circassians of Syria
struggle of Cevad Anzor
of Syria have experienced lot difficulty since leaving the Northwest
Caucasus. The Circassians are part of a large, important group
living in the Caucasus region since ancient history. They were
in contact with many peoples who passed through the plains to
their north. During that time, The Circassians were almost in
constant warfare with their neighbors. By 1860's the Circassians
were forced to migrate to various parts of the Ottoman Empire.
the Circassians lived in the Golan Heights.After the 1967 Arab-İsraeli
war, they withdrew further into Syria, specifically to Damascus.Finding
their settlement unsatisfactory, they petitioned the U.S.A.
in the mid 1970's for asylum. The U.S. allowed many of them
to immigrate to America, where they settled in New Jersey and
New York City.
who remained in Syria are well off. Many of them works in government,
civil service or the military. Most Circassians learn Arabic
in school, speak Adygey ( their native language ) among themselves
and study English.Students in junior high school study written
Circassian in cyrillic script. However there are no newspapers
and few Circassian books printed in Syria.
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.
The Circassians were organized into four casts: princes, nobles,
freemen and slaves. The princes organized the wealth and external
relations of the villlages. The freemen were farmers, herdsmen
or worked in plants. The slaves served the princes and nobles
as servants and laborers.
are Sunni Muslims for the past three or four hundred years.Circassian
population in Syria in 1990 28500 ,1995 33800, 2000 40000.
owners of the Golan Heights
two Circassian villages in Aleppo, three villages in Hama, six
villages in Humus, eleven villages in Golan Heights.
The first migration to Syria followed the route from the port
of Samsun at Black Sea then to Uzunyayla region of Kayseri then
to Syria. Name of the Leader of the immigrants was Julian and
it is said that the name Golan is the variation of it. At the
time of 1967 Arab-Israeli war,there were 12 Circassian villages
at the Israeli occupied Golan Heights of Syria. At 1872 migration,
The Circassian population of 1000 were settled at Hama, Humus
and Golan Heights, which were small villages at that time. The
second wave of migration in August of 1878 came from Balkans:
1200 Circassians followed the route Salonika Istanbul to Syria,
and they also settled at Hama and Humus. The migration wave
continued and the Circassian population of Syria at that time
climbed up to 70.000.
Struggle of Cevad Anzor
of Syria actively involved in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war,with
a unit,in leadership of Cevad Anzor and 200 Circassians were
martryed. They saved the occupied lands but the Arabs failure
of resistance caused the Israeli re-occupation, and special
unit of the Circassians are dissolved.
Losses in population
population of Syrian Circassians were 38000 in year 1960.Kabardians
were at Aleppo Hanasır, Abedzah were at Mumbush, again Abedzah
were at Humus Tel Amıri, Tılil, İnnasır,Anzat, Chechens were
at Aynil Hamra, Dagestanis were at Derfur, and those settled
at Damascus all have suffered health problems and took refuge
with their brethren in Kuneytre. Circassian villages of Kuneytre
were: Mansura(Abedzah, Bjedug) Mudariye(Kabardians) Selmaniye
(Bjedug) Enzivan Mumsiye Biracem Berika Cueyza (All Abedzah)
Hıshnye(Kabardians) Fahan (Osset-Abkhaz). Circassians of Syria
wished to repatriate to Caucasus and their situation were locally
investigated by a visiting delegation from Kabardino-Balkaria
Republic of the Soviet Union.
Their petition were fruitless. The Syrian adminisration's cold
approach is also a negative factor.
punishment for culture
intellectuals of 1920's have made considerable contribution
to vitalize the culture. Over 40 primary schools in Circassian
were serving and majority ot them were at Kuneytre. Then in
1928 weekly newspaper Marc was published in Damascus in Circassian
in latin alphabet, Arabic and French as well. Syrian administration
questioned these intellectuals for political behaviour and their
schools were shut down along with the Marc newspaper and the
Circassian Benevolent Association of Keneytre.
after Israeli Occupation
At the end
of 1967 Syria-Israel war, the villages of Golan Heights are
occupied by Israel and it was re-exile for Circassians whom
settled at Damascus. One of the villages at Aleppo is Abzah
and the other is Kabardian. Chechens live in Rakka, Rasulayn,
and Kamıshlı. Majority of Syrian Circassians are Abzah and other
Circassian tribes of Bjedug, Shapsıg and Hatikuay. Abkhazian
population of Syria being small have caused them to forget their
relations between Syria and Soviet Union in the post second
World War era, have enabled the Syrian Circassians to further
their communication with the Caucasus, especially in 1960's.
Books, journals and cultural materials of Caucasus were introduced.
Yet ,seemingly the cultural identity and language erosion is
their major problem. They have The Circassian Association but
there is not much else.