Circassian diaspora in Syria condemn militant operations in Chechnya

The Circassian diaspora in Syria (Circassians are an ethnic group in the North Caucasus) condemn militants' actions in Chechnya and believe that foreign interference in political affairs in the Caucasus is inadmissible.

"We consider foreign interference in political affairs in the Caucasus to be inadmissible," chairman of the Circassian charitable society in Syria Sharaf Abaz told RIA Novosti. He stressed that ethnic groups in Russia should solve this problem themselves.

Sharaf Abaz, a deputy of the Syrian parliament, has headed the Circassian charitable society since 1990.

The North Caucasus diaspora in Syria is in the main made up of Circassians, Adygeis, Karabdins and Abkhazians. There are also small groups from Daghestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia. "We all act together and try to solve our problems in unison," Sharaf Abaz said.

He added that the Chechens were trying to act independently and had disrupted relations with the society.

In relation to events in the North Caucasus, Sharaf Abaz said that the slogans used by the Chechen separatists had nothing to do with Islam and, moreover, had greatly damaged the religion's authority, tainting it with an extremist hue.

Abaz emphasised that if at the start of the events those leaving the North Caucasus for Syria had maintained a neutral stance, now they condemned the actions of the Chechen gunmen. In particular, Abaz pointed out that the diaspora in Syria had never collected anything to assist the bandits.

The chairman also reported that society did not allow any political speeches and that its activity was wholly in line with the Syrian government's policies.

"We see our main task as preserving the languages, national traditions and the folklore of our nations, as well as developing ties with Russia," Sharaf Azab said.

According to him, Syrian Circassians and representatives of other ethnic groups from the North Caucasus have always seen themselves as true Russians. "We understand that thanks to Russia, Caucasian nations have been able to preserve our culture, language and national traditions," the chairman said.

According to him, the society is aiming to organise constant delegation exchanges, invite folklore emsembles to play in Syria and publish its own magazine.

The Circassian society conducts large-scale charity work: its helps impoverished families, pays for their medical needs and helps to send children to Russia to study.

The society's financial activity is partly funded through private donations and help from the Syrian government, Sharaf Abaz said.

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