Jordanian Circassians

Jordanians of Circassian orgin make up about 2% of the population here, including my friend Hamza and his family. (Hamza is half Circassian, half Chechnyan.)

Laura, Hamza and Sarah enjoy a Chechen breakfast.

Laura, Hamza and Sarah enjoy a Chechen breakfast.

I arrived in Amman completely and shamefully ignorant of Circassian history and culture in the region. I had heard of Chechnya and could point out its general location on a map, but had never heard of Circassia. Since my best Jordanian friend is Circassian and his family is very involved in the Circassian community here in Amman, I thought it fitting to pass on a little of what I’ve learned so far.

Circassian flag. I've seen the three arrow symbol around town as bumper stickers & patches.

Circassian flag. I’ve seen the three arrow symbol around town as bumper stickers & patches.

Circassians are an ethic group from the North Caucasus and are predominately Muslim. After the region was conquered by Russia, persecution and genocide ensued and many Circassians moved down into the Ottoman Empire. Circassians settled in Amman and in surrounding areas in the 1870’s, way before Jordan became an independent state in 1946. Today, Circassian populations can be found in Wadi Seer, Jerash, Sweileh, Zarqa, and other towns in the north.

From what I’ve experienced so far, the Circassians in Jordan have a strong commitment to retaining their cultural heritage, yet are very much Jordanian and are quite involved in all aspects of Jordanian society, including politics. They are reserved 3 seats in the 150-seat lower Parliamentary quota system, and make up the royal guard.

About Laura McAdams

Laura McAdams is a Master’s student at University of Pennsylvania studying International Educational Development. Her experience in the MENA region includes 15 months as a Fulbright student researcher to Fez and Ifrane, Morocco in 2010 and 2011. Her project was interested in understanding the disconnect between the policies of technology usage in education and the reality of how these policies unfold in the classroom. Summer 2012 she returned to the Middle Atlas mountains of Morocco to work with a women’s weaving cooperative. She is excited to learn more about other countries in the MENA region and issues involving education policy and reform, technology usage in curriculums and gender equality in education. One of Laura’s lifelong goals is to one day be able to sit down and leisurely read a newspaper in Arabic.
This entry was posted in International Educational Development Program at UPenn, 2012-2013. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Jordanian Circassians

  1. Sean Snyder says:

    I had never heard of Circassians either. Quite interesting.

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