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 genocide around the time of the First World War, their numbers shriveled as they faced deportation, starvation, and massacre. . . .

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Joel Carillet has worked in Egypt and Israel/Palestine, including six months with the World Council of Church?s Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. At the end of 2004 he completed a fourteen-month backpacking journey across Asia and is now writing a book about the trip. He is a member of the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ.

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