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Posted by on Apr 8, 2007 in At TMV | 10 comments

Christians in Turkey Celebrate Easter and have High Hopes for Future

In the light of Easter, an interesting article at Turkish Daily News:

The Syriacs in southeast Turkey are celebrating Easter, with high hopes for the future. There are approximately 2,000 Syriacs left in the hilly region around Mardin and Midyat in southeast Turkey, bound in by the Tigris to the north and east, and by the Syrian border to the south. Most villages of Tur Abdin are desolate and decayed. Approximately, 300 to 400,000 Syriacs from Turkey live in Europe.

Never heard of the Syriacs? Neither did I before reading this article:

Syriacs are Christians whose gospels are written in Aramaic…

The Syriac church has had a key role in maintaining the culture and language, which survives in the liturgy and is close to the spoken language (in Turkish, Süryanice)…

The Syriac Church was instrumental in preserving a great part of the ancient Greek heritage at a time when the Western church was banning it, passing it on to the Arabs, who in turn fed it back into Europe. Large chunks of the book of Ezra and Daniel in the Old Testament are written in Aramaic. Father Gabriel says that civilization is like a river. “Everybody siphons water off, but we must also put some in.�

This “ancient Christian community” has a troubled past:

During the government’s efforts to flush out the PKK from the area in the 1980s and 90s, many Syriacs were caught in the crossfire and forced to abandon their villages, seeking a better life in Europe and the United States. Many suffered direct intimidation and outright violence from Kurds who wanted to occupy their homes, they claim. Kurdish village guards, fighting alongside government forces against the PKK, were granted many abandoned houses, they say.

In 2004, under pressure from the European Union, Turkey conceded that the village of Sare should be vacated for returning Syriacs.

Read it all at the Turkish Daily News website. Quite fascinating, isn’t it?

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