Syrian Christian refugees headed to Turkey

Rarely do we see news about the persecuted Christians of Syria.  What we have seen indicated many were still in Syria and protected by the Assad government.  For new readers, when you see news of the hundreds of thousands of Syrians flooding into UN camps in Lebanon and Jordan, those are mostly Sunni Muslims (thus if we take refugees coming from those UN camps, we will get mostly Muslims in our upcoming batch of 10,000 or so).

This article at National Geographic is pretty interesting.   The only problem with going to Turkey is that they are persecuted for their ethnicity and their religion as they return to their ancient (pre-Islam!) homeland.

The fifth-century Mor Barsaumo church in Midyat, Turkey, draws Syriac Christians in what was once the faith’s heartland, as well as refugees fleeing violence in Syria and Iraq. Photograph by Monique Jaques, National Geographic

Many are waiting in Midyat for their applications for asylum in Germany and elsewhere in Europe to be approved.

National Geographic:

MIDYAT, Turkey—On most afternoons, Mor Barsaumo, a honey-colored, fifth-century stone church nestled in a warren of slanted streets, draws a crowd. In the narrow courtyard, old men smoke cigarettes and drink coffee, while children kick a soccer ball across the stone floor. In a darkened classroom, empty except for a few desks, a teacher gives private lessons in Syriac, derived from Aramaic, the language of Christ.

And now, the refugees also come.

Advised by relatives or other refugees, newcomers to Midyat often make the steps of the church their first stop. Midyat and its environs—known in Syriac as Tur Abdin, “mountain of the servants of God”—are the historical heartland of the Middle East’s widely dispersed Syriac Orthodox Christian community. Now the region has become a haven as the fighting in Syria and Iraq has forced Christians to flee their homes.

“All Syriac Christians come here. Most of the aid is delivered from here,” says Ayhan Gürkan, a deacon at Mor Barsaumo and a member of the Tur Abdin Syriac Christians Committee, set up to look after Midyat’s Christian refugees.

But, even their refuge in Turkey is temporary:

For the four monks at Mor Gabriel Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in the world, the flight of so many refugees to Europe is a painful reminder of how little is left of their world. A few refugees stay intermittently at the monastery, where they receive free room and board as well as money for doing odd jobs, but many head to Europe.

Here, Isa Gulten, an archdeacon at the monastery, conducts sporadic lessons in Syriac. This time, it’s for an audience of one: a German of Syriac descent studying to become a priest when he returns to Berlin. “You are listening to the original language of Christ,” Gulten says, reading a passage from St. Paul’s epistles.

“As Christians, we suffer doubly in the Middle East,” he says, pointing to the difference with Turkey’s Kurds, most of whom are Sunni Muslims. “The Kurds here are persecuted just for their ethnicity. But we are persecuted for both our ethnicity and our faith.

Read it all.

As far as we know, only Canada has said specifically it will take Syrian Christians as a first priority, and as you can imagine the ‘humanitarian industrial complex’ is not pleased!

Has anyone heard anything out of the contractors, including the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, specifically about these Syrian Christians?

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