A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Middle East Circassians and the Sochi Olympics

This article, by a member of Jordan's Circassian community, discusses the international Circassian diaspora's attitude toward the Winter Olympics in Sochi, once the heart of the Adyghe or Circassian people's homeland.

Between 1860 and 1864, at the end of the Russian conquest of Circassia, there occurred one of the first great ethnic cleansings of the 19th century, one now largely forgotten except by the descendants of the victims. Hundreds of thousands died, and more were deported by Tsarist Russia to the Ottoman Empire, where they formed, and still form, distinct ethnic communities. Turkey, Syria, Lebanon,Jordan, Israel, Iraq and Egypt all have Circassian populations, perhaps most visible in Jordan where the overall population is small and they are a sizable minority. (Some of the "Circassian" communities of the Middle East include other peoples expelled from the Caucasus (particularly Chechens), but I'm speaking here of true Circassians, the Adyghe people.

The article linked to above (despite sometimes spelling Caucasus as "Caucuses," presumably due to a spell-checker) notes how the choice of Sochi for the Olympics has awakened a national solidarity among the Circassian diaspora, one not seen before.

No comments: