Jordan8 January 2022 2022-04-18 22:33
Circassians in Jordan
Following the mass deportation from Circassia and the ensuing deportation from the Balkans in 1877-78 of those who had earlier been settled in the Balkans, groups of Circassians settled parts of the Ottoman Middle East that would later become the Kingdom of Jordan. When the first groups arrived in Amman in 1878, it was simply a location where Roman ruins stood and some Circassians settled in those ruins and in a way founded the modern town of Amman. With further waves of immigration, they settled in Wadi Seer, Naour, Sweilah, Jerash and Rusaifa in the early 1900s.
The Circassian community has played a significant role in the establishment of the state of Jordan and the formation of its bureaucratic and military structures ever since Jordan first became a British mandate in 1921 and then evolved into a kingdom ruled by the Hashemite dynasty. The accumulated experiences in military and civil governance acquired by leading members of the community during under Ottoman and British rules, their communal ability to mobilise politically and militarily in the absence of strong and stable state structures as well as the close association they formed with the ruling Hashemite family, which was, and still, is based on mutual trust and solidarity, have sealed the fate of the Circassian community in Jordan for years to come. While the mutual dependency seems to have waned over the years due to the immense demographic and political changes the country has gone through in the past seven decades, the fact that the ceremonial guard unit of the Palace of the King is consisted of Circassians is generally taken to be the symbol of this mutual affiliation.
The fact that Amman became the capitol city and consequently its population boomed from three to four thousand in 1920s to around two million in 2020s, has enabled some in the Circassian community of Amman to become significant property owners. Furthermore, as a result of this rapid transformation, which has seen old Circassian villages turn into neighbourhoods of a metropolis, Circassians in Jordan have also become the first truly urbanised diaspora community within the wider Circassian diaspora.
The size of the Circassian community of Jordan is thought to be between forty and one hundred thousands.
Within the Jordanian political system, Circassians, along some other religious and ethnic minorities, are recognised as a tribe/corporate group and as such are allocated two seats in the Jordanian parliament.
While the Circassian Benevolent Society, founded in 1932, is the central community organisation, there are many other political and cultural organisations as well as sport clubs. There is also a school where Circassian language is taught. The current close cultural, educational and business ties of the community with the Circassian homeland were formed in the 1950s despite Jordan and the Soviet Union being in different camps of the political divide of the time.
Due to these historical and sociological reasons, the Circassian community in Jordan plays a major role in global Circassian diaspora affairs.