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Turkey’s Circassians in uproar over alphabet

Turkey’s largest Circassian organization is infuriated by a government decision to introduce the Latin alphabet in Circassian language courses in public schools, alongside the Cyrillic one.
Turks of ethnic Circassian origin protest outside the Russian embassy in Ankara on May 21, 2014, on the 150th annivesary the mass deportation and killings of ethnic Circassians by Tsarist Russia in the 19th century in May 21, 1864. The north Caucasian ethnic group native to Circassia were displaced in the course of the Russian conquest of the Caucasus in the 19th century, especially after the RussianCircassian War in 1864.  AFP PHOTO/ADEM ALTAN        (Photo credit should read ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Turkey’s ethnic Circassians, the descendants of Caucasian communities expelled from their homeland by Russians in the 19th century, had hardly overcome the shock of being ignored in the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) tickets for the June 7 elections when they found themselves embroiled in another spat with the government. The issue this time is the Circassian language courses offered in public schools.

The Circassian language, known also as Adyghe, has been taught as a selective course over the past three years under a curriculum designed on the basis of the Cyrillic script. The Ministry of Education, however, has now approved the use also of the Latin alphabet, drawing angry reactions from the Federation of Caucasian Associations (KAFFED), the largest civic organization of Turkey’s Circassians that brings together 53 groups. On April 16, KAFFED members held demonstrations at Ministry of Education offices across the country.

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