North America8 January 2022 2022-04-18 22:21
United States of America
The United States is home to many diaspora communities including a Circassian one. While there are Circassian individuals from various countries living in all American states, there is a compact settlement of Circassians, mostly but not exclusively from Syria, in New Jersey and a much smaller group living in California.
The history of the community goes back to 1920s when a handful of Circassian families from the Caucasus, refugees from the Russian Civil War, emigrated to the States and settled mostly in and around New York. They were later joined by a few more dozens of refugees from Circassia who, having fought in the World War II for various parties, ended up in the States after the war.
The backbone of the community was and is the Circassians of Syria whose settlements in Golan Heights had become a major theatre of war in the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973 and was occupied by the Israeli Army in the latter war. As a result, they had become internally displaced and moved to Damascus. With the help of the American NGO, Tolstoy Foundation, a large group of these IDPs emigrated to the US and settled in New Jersey in 1975-76. They have since then been joined by their family members as well as smaller number of Circassians from Jordan, Turkey and Circassia especially following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Concentrated mostly in the township of Wayne and the city of Paterson, Circassians began to organise in community centers that conglomerated into the Circassian Benevolent Association (CBA) (https://cbaamerica.org), founded in 1952. The CBA plays a very important role in the community as it provides communal solidarity; venue for weddings, funerals and cultural events, and a platform to engage in local politics as well as Circassian diaspora politics. Hence it is a very organic part of the Circassian community of the US.
There is also a smaller Circassian association in California.
Some Circassians have also settled in Canada for work or educational reasons while others emigrated there as part of the country’s emigration programme. While there is not a settled diaspora community or a compact settlement along the lines of the Circassians of New Jersey, there are Circassian individuals from Canada who are actively involved in global Circassian diaspora politics and affairs.