Did you know

28 Feb 2023

Did You Know? Circassians

The Circassians are a Northwest Caucasian ethnic group native to Circassia, a region in the North Caucasus and along the northeast shore of the Black Sea. Most Circassians are Sunni Muslims.

Many attempts were made to populate Cyprus with Muslim Circassians. In 1860 the Mejlis of Nicosia asked the Porte to send 1000-1500 Circassians to Cyprus. French consul Darasse reported that this would cause great trouble (KX x p.31). In 1864 the Turks deported 2700 Circassians to Cyprus in 3 brigs. Many died on the way and those dying were thrown overboard. Some 1400 were put ashore. Of those 500 were send to Nicosia and only 200 survived.

All the rest eventually died and were circumcised before burial (Hill 261-2/Luke 258-9). After the Russo Turkish war of 1877-8 and Russia’s conquest of Armenia and the Caucasus, many Moslem Circassians fled to Turkey. In March 1878 some 600 Circassians were allocated to Cyprus by the Ottomans. The local Greek population was up in arms. They did not want an increase of Moslems in Cyprus and they did not trust the brigand character of the Circassians. Petitions were signed to dissuade the government from bringing them to the island. A ship with 3000 Circassians destined for Latakia went off course and landed in the Carpas peninsula. There was such agitation amongst the locals that the Circassians were immediately removed and diverted to Adalia.

The ‘Did You Know’ series is made possible with the support of OPAP (Cyprus) and Active Citizens Fund.

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