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Turkey's ancient Christians seek to resettle villages

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  • Koshy George
    ���� Turkey s ancient Christians seek to resettle villages Syriac archbishop: It is our pleasure to have our people back from different parts of the world By
    Message 1 of 1502 , Jun 12 11:24 AM
       
      Turkey's ancient Christians seek to resettle villages
      Syriac archbishop: 'It is our pleasure to have our people back from different parts of the world'

      By Agence France Presse (AFP)

      Wednesday, June 02, 2004

      Turkey: The ancient Syriac Orthodox monastery outside this southeastern city is praying for a brighter future as Christians, forced out of their ancestral lands by economic hardship and an armed Kurdish insurgency, start trickling back to their villages.

      "It is our pleasure to have our people back from different parts of the world," said Archbishop Filuksinos Saliba Ozmen at the Deyrulzafaran Monastery, which dates back to the 5th century and sits on a bluff overlooking an extensive plain.

      "By the grace of God they are coming back. Otherwise we would lose everything, the entire community," he added in his office adorned with pictures of late archbishops and patriarchs.

      The Syriac Orthodox community, one of the world's oldest Christian denominations, whose original congregations also settled into what is today Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, numbered some 50,000 to 60,000 members in southeastern Turkey in the 1960s.

      Many left for Europe in the 1970s for economic reasons. Emigration to countries such as Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden ballooned over the following decade amid heavy fighting between the army and Kurdish rebels seeking self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast.

      "We were caught in the middle of the clashes," Ozmen said.

      The community now numbers 20,000-25,000 with most now living in Istanbul.

      Recently some Syriac Orthodox families in Europe decided they would try their luck and return to villages they had abandoned, as the insurgency has almost died out after rebels declared a unilateral cease-fire and took refuge in neighboring Iraq in 1999.

      The rebels however issued a statement over the weekend threatening new attacks.

      "The situation now is at least safer than before. We have been struggling, working for it to get better," Ozmen said just before that statement was issued.

      Also bolstering the community's hopes was an official government call in 2001 for the Syrian Orthodox community to return and a guarantee they would not be hindered from doing so.

      Turkey's drive to join the European Union is another influence on the return of this Christian community, as the mainly Muslim country strives to ensure religious freedoms and democratic rights for its minorities in order to join the EU.

      Ozmen explained that of 12 Syriac villages abandoned in the region, only one, Marbobo, had been rebuilt and resettled after eight families returned.

      Reconstruction was under way in two other villages, Kafro and Arbo, while plans were being drawn up for the rebuilding in some six other villages in the surrounding rugged hills, said the archbishop.

      "The authorities are helping us with getting water and electricity to the villages. We are planning to receive some young families", said Ozmen. "If we get five percent of the Syriac community back, it would not be bad," he added.

      But all is not rosy. The archbishop pointed to the difficulty of keeping alive the culture of the community which uses Aramaic, the language spoken at the time of Jesus, in its liturgy.

      The Syriac Orthodox were not recognized as an official minority in 1923 when the Turkish Republic was founded - unlike the Greek, Jewish and Armenian communities - leaving them without the right to open official schools.

      The community resorted to sending their children to Turkish state schools during the day and afterward to informal schooling in both Deyrulzafaran as well as in the Mor Gabriel Monastery - the oldest monastery in the world - in the nearby town of Midyat.

      "That is why we would like to see Turkey in the EU to live better and practice our culture better. We, as Christian minorities, have a great task in establishing ties between Turkey and the European Union," said Ozmen.

      By Hande Culpan, Agence France Presse

      ( http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=&categ_id==2&article_id=G49 )

      =======================================================================================================================================
      Ancient Syrian Orthodox Monasteries:-

      1. Mor Hananyo (Kurkmo Dayro/Dayr ez-Za`faran), Mardin, Turkey: http://sor.cua.edu/ChMon/MardinDKurkmo/index.html

      2. Mor Gabriel, Midyat, Turkey: http://sor.cua.edu/ChMon/MidyatDGabriel/index.html

      3. Mor Marqos, Jerusalem: http://sor.cua.edu/ChMon/HLand/YerusalemSMark.html

      4. Yoldath Aloho, Bethlehem: http://sor.cua.edu/ChMon/HLand/BethlehemYoldathAloho.html

      5. Mor Mattay, Mosul, Iraq: http://sor.cua.edu/ChMon/MosulDMattay/index.html

      6. Mor Ephrem, Ma'arat Saydnayah, Damascus (Present Patriarchal Cathedral): http://sor.cua.edu/ChMon/DamascusMEphrem/index.html


      Koshy George, Baroda
      Thumpamon Valiyapally
    • SOCM-FORUM@yahoogroups.com
      Dear members We have created a database section in our forum. We would like to update our list of parishes. We request our members to go to the data section
      Message 1502 of 1502 , Oct 1, 2004
        Dear members
        We have created a database section in our forum. We would like to update our list of parishes. We request our members to go to the data
        section and update your parish informations or send details to SOCM-
        FORUM-owner@yahoogroups.com. From the existing data base if you find
        any error please write to SOCM-FORUM-owner@yahoogroups.com

        In our Lords Love
        Forum Moderators.
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