German video re-ignites Turkish Circassian controversy

Turkey’s Circassian group has come below hearth from nationalist quarters after complaining of assimilation in opposition to the Circassian identification.

The controversy started with a video story by German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle. In the 12-minute section, Fahri Huvaj, a Turkish writer of Circassian descent, claimed that Circassians have been a sufferer of assimilation in Turkey, which hosts the world’s largest Circassian inhabitants. Huvaj mentioned that solely a fifth of Circassians in Turkey might converse their mom tongue and that Circassian language and tradition was on the point of extinction in Anatolia. 

Huvaj’s claims set off a frenzy within the Turkish media. Some information reviews have accused Circassian teams of being “duped by foreign powers.” 

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have additionally spoken in opposition to the video. Some different Circassian teams with shut ties to the federal government have been inspired to talk up in opposition to the DW’s story. The ruling get together’s response was significantly weird, because it usually factors on the “Circassian example” to refute claims of assimilation campaigns in opposition to minorities.

AKP spokesman Omer Celik wrote “Our Circassian siblings denounced German DW television’s baseless claims,” on Twitter, retweeting a submit from an account which doesn’t signify any Circassian group in Turkey. 

“As the Circassians in Turkey, we never accept German DW television’s claims against Turkey,” the account referred to as “Circassian Forum” wrote on Twitter.

Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin’s response was related. “We will never let those who seek to ignite a fratricide and conflict in Turkey. Let our unity and solidarity be their greatest fear,” he wrote on Twitter, additionally citing Circassian Forum’s tweet.

A board member of the Turkey-based Caucasian Foundation claimed that the DW’s story was “a character assasination” try in opposition to Turkey, In an article printed by Turkey’s official Anadolu News Agency, Yusuf Tuncbilek argued that the DW’s timing “was telling” and claimed that there was a political motive behind the story. 

In a local weather the place conspiracy theories involving “foreign powers” are promoted by the federal government, a story looking for a “hidden agenda” behind DW’s story has garnered some supporters.

Yet till his alliance with nationalists in 2014, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan additionally acknowledged the assimilation Circassians had confronted.

“The era of denial, rejection and assimilation has ended forever. The steps we took have ensured our siblings speak, learn and teach in their mother tongue,” Erdogan wrote in 2014 in a message marking an anniversary of the expulsion of Caucasian communities from their homeland by Russians within the 19th century.

After the AKP’s de facto alliance with nationalists, the dominant narrative in Turkey has shifted to demonizing those that criticize Turkish insurance policies towards minority teams.

Some, in the meantime, have argued that the video was aiming to insert a wedge between Turkey’s some four million Circassians and the federal government. 

“The government should be very careful,” Mehdi Nuzhet Cetinbas, a founding head of the Caucasus Association, wrote. “An olive department to be prolonged to the Circassian group [by the main opposition] might tear off a big quantity of votes from the AKP,” he added.

Cetinbas also conveyed his experience on assimilation “During the one-party rule [1923-1945], the elderly who could not speak Turkish were almost imprisoned in their houses. People who were speaking Circassian on streets had been arrested and fined,” Cetinbas argued. “I, as someone who was born in 1954, am the closest witness of this assimilation. I was beaten by a teacher until blood came out of my mouth and nose just because I spoke Circassian with my friend at the school yard,” he added.

Federation of Circassian Associations (KAFFED), the largest civic organization of Turkey’s Circassians that comprises 56 groups, also weighed in. 

“Circassians made Turkey their homeland and fulfilled all of their civic duties,” KAFFED head Umit Dincer wrote. “Yet, it is a fact that in Turkey, which hosts some 4 to 7 million Circassians today, the Circassian community has experienced assimilation,” he added. Circassians of Turkey were the most assimilated group in the Circassian diaspora, Dincer opined.

The article has further fueled the controversy. Ultra-nationalist media in Turkey accused the KAFFED of “attempting to sow a discord” in Turkey. The Federation of Circassian Associations, an umbrella organization of 13 associations, condemned the accusations, supporting Dincer. 

According to Circassian intellectuals several factors have been at play in the assimilation process. First and foremost, Circassians who were expelled to the Ottoman empire in the 19th century were resettled in different parts of the empire. 

Secondly, Circassians’ influential role before and during the Turkish republic’s independence war came at a price. Their increasing influence fueled the fears of the founding elite, setting off a purging campaign against powerful Circassian figures including Ethem Dipsheu, an Ottoman soldier and militia leader. Dipsheu who had been awarded a medal due to his contributions to the independence war, was later accused of treason and expelled from Turkey together with many different influential Circassian figures. In addition to the expulsions, a number of Circassian communities had been dispersed. Mass punishments led to suppression of the Circassian identification.

The “Citizen, Speak Turkish!” marketing campaign within the 1930s successfully prevented minorities from talking of their mom tongues in public. Circassians had been even unable to carry conventional wedding ceremony celebrations. Village names had been Turkified. The use of Circassian names and household names was barred, together with different minority names. 

Some of those bans had been abolished by the ruling AKP in 2004 throughout Turkey’s now-stalled European Union accession course of. Turkey’s public broadcaster TRT launched Circassian-language broadcasts one hour per week. Circassian literature and language applications had been launched in two totally different universities, and Circassian elective programs have been launched in center colleges.

Yet most of those reforms primarily remained on paper. For instance, the elective Circassian course is just provided if 10 college students enroll. Parents have extensively complained that elective Circassian programs had been transformed into faith programs in colleges. Calls for constructive discrimination and Circassian language broadcasts by the TRT, which has 42 totally different international companies, had been ignored. 

Those who deny assimilation claims have identified influential and excessive degree positions that Circassians maintain within the civil and navy paperwork. Yet Circassians’ promotions to greater positions within the paperwork will also be thought of a proof of assimilation, offering clues to their excessive degree of adaptation.

Circassian communities in Caucasia, in the meantime, get pleasure from larger liberties immediately. In three autonomous republics throughout the Russian Federation — Adyghe, Kabardino-Balkarian and Karachay-Cherkessia — Circassian is a co-official language together with Russian, with tv and radio channels broadcasting in Circassian. 


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