Tur Abdin, the mountainous region in the heart of Turkish Kurdistan, literally means “Mountain of the Servants of God” and stands as a reminder that the Syriac church in the southeastern part of Turkey is one of the world’s oldest Christian communities. Now, as has occurred many times in the past, the community is experiencing a particularly critical period.
This land on the edges of the fertile crescent between the Tigris and the Euphrates once formed the eastern border of the Roman Empire. Back in the 4th century numerous monasteries were built, however, the monks, and many believers have by no means had an easy time. The 1915 Armenian genocide also saw the annihilation of an estimated 250 thousand Syriac Christians. More recently, migrations driven by economic tensions and intolerance have further reduced their population, which currently numbers around 25 thousand. Not recognized as a religious minority in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which did recognize Jews, Armenians and the Greek Orthodox Church, the Syriac Christians have encountered numerous setbacks and endured problems linked to the recognition of their property.
But, in spite of all the difficulties, the Syriac monks are not ready to give in and today a few of them are still keeping alive the ancient traditions and a language very similar to the Aramaic spoken by Jesus Christ.
( 2021 )