Turkey is home to Syriac Christians, whose followers extend across the Middle East. In the 1990s, many Syriac Christians fled Turkey during years of fighting between the Turkish state and Kurdish rebels. In the last few years, they have been returning. But a series of court cases against the ancient monastery of Mor Gabriel, in southeastern Turkey, has put their return increasingly in doubt.
For 1,600 years, the bell at the Syriac Orthodox Mor Gabriel Monastery has called people to prayer. The ceremonies are conducted in Aramaic, a language spoken at the time of Christ.
GianThe building and region around it have survived invasions by Persians, Arabs, Mongols, Kurds and Turks, going back more than 1,000 years.
A group of Syrian Syriacs have thrown their support behind the struggle against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by forming an agreement with the leading representatives of the Syrian opposition, the Syrian National Council (SNC). In the agreement a democratic Syria is demanded, in which all peoples would have equal rights and could alternately come into power after the al-Assad regime falls.
Twelve Syriac-origin lawmakers in the Swiss Parliament have come together to establish a group that aims to make the voice of Syriacs heard.
The group, named “Schweiz Suryoye” (Switzerland Syriacs) will aim to bring the problems of the Syriacs in Turkey and the Middle East to the agenda, Rima Tüzün, the head of foreign affairs at the Brussels-based European Syriac Union told the Hürriyet Daily News. “The main objective of the group is to distribute information about the cultural, communal and social situation of the Syriacs in their native countries [Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Lebanon],” said Tüzün. “This is the first time MPs have come together politically in a group for our people and therefore this group is a historic step for us,” said Tüzün. “The Syriacs are not yet united and do not have a powerful voice ... The Syriacs have a chance to regain their rights,” he added.