Circassians in Turkey

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Circassians in Turkey
Адыгэхэр Тырку
Circassian flag.svg
The Circassian flag
Total population
Estimated 2,000,000[1][2][3][4]–3,000,000[5]
Regions with significant populations
Marmara Region, Central Anatolia Region, Black Sea Region
Languages
Circassian languages (including East Circassian and West Circassian dialects, spoken by estimated 20% of Circassians)
Turkish
Arabic (Hatay Circassians)
Religion
Predominantly Sunni Islam
Rarely Eastern Orthodox Church,[6] Circassian native faith Khabzeism[7] as well as Atheism-Agnosticism[8]
Related ethnic groups
Abazins, Abkhazians, Chechens
The distribution of Circassians in Turkey
Circassians commemorate the massacre of their ancestors and exile of the Circassians from their homeland in Taksim, İstanbul
Ethem the Circassian, his Circassian hands and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in front of the main building of the station, who were on their way to the Yozgat rebellion (June 1920)

Circassians in Turkey (East Circassian and West Circassian: Адыгэхэр Тырку, Adıgəxər Tırku; Turkish: Türkiye Çerkesleri, lit.'Turkey Circassians') refers to people born in or residing in Turkey who are of Circassian origin. The Circassians are one of the largest ethnic minorities in Turkey, with a population estimated to be 2.5 million. According to the EU reports there are three to five million Circassians in Turkey.[9] The term was also formerly used to refer to all North Caucasians from Turkey.

Circassians are a Caucasian immigrant people, and although the Circassians in Turkey were forced to forget their language and assimilate into Turkish, a small minority still speak their native Circassian languages as it is still spoken in many Circassian villages, and the group that preserved their language the best are the Kabardians.[10] With the rise of Circassian nationalism in the 21st century, Circassians in Turkey, especially the young, have started to study and learn their language. The Circassians in Turkey are mostly Sunni Muslims of Hanafi madh'hab, although non-denominationalism is also fairly common among Circassians. The largest association of Circassians in Turkey,[11] KAFFED, is the founding member of the International Circassian Association (ICA).[12]

The closely related ethnic groups Abazins (10,000[13]) and Abkhazians (39,000[14]) are also often counted among them.

History[edit]

The Circassian genocide was the Russian Empire's systematic mass murder,[15][16][17][18] ethnic cleansing,[19][16][17][18] forced migration[20][16][17][18]-expulsion[21][16][17][18] of 800,000–1,500,000 Circassians[22][23][16][17][18] (at least 75% of the total population) from their homeland Circassia. This occurred in the aftermath of the Caucasian War in the second half of the 19th century.[24] The displaced people were settled primarily to the Ottoman Empire, especially modern-day Turkey.[22] Much of Adyghe culture was disrupted after the conquest of their homeland by Russia in 1864.

Circassians are regarded by historians to play a key role in the history of Turkey. Turkey has the largest Adyghe population in the world, around half of all Circassians live in Turkey, mainly in the provinces of Samsun and Ordu (in Northern Turkey), Kahramanmaraş (in Southern Turkey), Kayseri (in Central Turkey), Bandırma, and Düzce (in Northwest Turkey), along the shores of the Black Sea; the region near the city of Ankara. All citizens of Turkey are considered Turks by the government, but it is estimated that approximately two million ethnic Circassians live in Turkey. The "Circassians" in question do not always speak the languages of their ancestors, and in some cases some of them may describe themselves as "only Turkish". The reason for this loss of identity is mostly due to Turkey's governmen assimilation policies[25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32] [33][34][35][36][37][38] and marriages with non-Circassians.

Circassians are regarded by historians to play a key role in the history of Turkey. Some of the exilees and their descendants gained high positions in the Ottoman Empire. Most of the Young Turks were of Circassian origin. Until the end of the First World War, many Circassians actively served in the army. In the period after the First World War, Circassians came to the fore in Anatolia as a group of advanced armament and organizational abilities as a result of the struggle they fought with the Russian troops until they came to the Ottoman lands. However, the situation of the Ottoman Empire after the war caused them to be caught between the different balances of power between Istanbul and Ankara and even become a striking force. For this period, it is not possible to say that Circassians all acted together as in many other groups in Anatolia. The Turkish government removed 14 Circassian villages from Gönen and Manyas regions in December 1922, May and June 1923, without separating women and children, and drove them to different places in Anatolia from Konya to Sivas and Bitlis. This incident had a great impact on the assimilation of Circassians.

After 1923, Circassians were restricted by policies such as the prohibition of Circassian language,[39][40][41][42][43][44][45][46][30] changing village names, and surname law.[47][48][49] Circassians, who had many problems in maintaining their identity comfortably, were seen as a group that inevitably had to be assimilated.

Demographics[edit]

Circassian-speaking population in Turkey[50]
Year As first language As second language Total Turkey's population % of Total speakers
1927 95,901 0 95,901 13,629,488 0.70
1935 91,972 14,703 106,675 16,157,450 0.66
1945 66,691 9,779 76,470 18,790,174 0.41
1950 75,837 0 75,837 20,947,188 0.36
1955 77,611 22,861 100,407 24,064,763 0.42
1960 63,137 65,061 128,198 27,754,820 0.46
1965 58,339 48,621 106,960 31,391,421 0.34

In the census of 1965, those who spoke Circassian as first language were proportionally most numerous in Kayseri (3.2%), Tokat (1.2%) and Kahramanmaraş (1.0).


Notable Circassian people with origins from Turkey[edit]

Politicians[edit]

Presidents and prime ministers of Turkey[edit]

Grand viziers of the Ottoman Empire[edit]

Military officiers[edit]

Cultural figures[edit]

Film, TV, and stage[edit]

Ahmet Kabolati - writer/director/producer of film and television (known for The Final, Pendulum, Mind of its Own).

Musicians[edit]

Writers[edit]

Sports people[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]