Staunton, Sept. 21 – The Circassian national movement is currently stalled because between 2005 and 2015 the Russian siloviki and Russian skinheads killed “some 2,000” Circassian young people who had been radicalized by post-Soviet Islam, “an unbearable loss for our small people,” according to Ibragim Yaganov.
But despite that, the leader of Circassians in Kabardino-Balkaria says, there is every reason to believe that a new generation of young people are emerging who will overcome the fears the powers have sought to instill, take up the struggle and give new strength to the national movement (caucasustimes.com/ru/ibragim-jaganov-o-cherkesskom-obshhestve-i-islame/).
Yaganov grew up a Muslim under the tutelage of his grandmother; but when the Soviet Union collapsed, there was an influx of mullahs “from Turkey and other countries.” These people built mosques and inspired many with their new vision. “And this radical Islam divided out people into Wahhabis and nationalists.”
But Islam should not divide people but unite them, the Circassian leader says, adding that he hopes that at some point in the future, the Circassian people will return to the Islam of a century ago which nurtured their people rather than divided it and put many of its members at risk.
The rising generation of young Circassians, Yaganov continues, “is more educated and technologically oriented” than its predecessors. But beneath those differences is the commonality that has defined the Circassians for centuries, the Khabze principles by which Circassians who are Circassians have always lived.
Circassians today do not aspire to the return of all the land that was taken from them, he says. That would be impossible because other people now live on those lands and consider them their homes. But in part because of this, it is critically important that Circassians seek and achieve Russian recognition that the empire committed genocide against them.
Asked to name the five areas in which Circassians today face challenges, Yaganov listed language, Khabze, territory, demography and economics. “We have very big problems in all these spheres.”