The Return of the Suriani by Joel Carrilet

The Return of the Suriani

A Visit to a Christian Minority in Turkey That Refuses to Die

by Joel Carillet

On a plateau of barren hills in southeastern Turkey, bordering the Tigris River and Syria, sits the historic heartland of the Syrian Orthodox Church, Tur Abdin. In his 1994 book From the Holy Mountain: A Journey Among the Christians of the Middle East, the English writer William Dalrymple predicted that Tur Abdin’s Christian community, known as the Suriani, would vanish within a generation. At the time, his prediction made sense.

Breaking Community

Dalrymple was writing at the end of a century in which the Suriani had suffered staggering losses. During the Armenian genocid . . .