Monday, February 01, 2016

Turkey: Christian Refugees Live in Fear

Around 45,000 Armenian and Assyrian Christians (also known as Syriac and Chaldean) who fled Syria and Iraq and have settled in small Anatolian cities in Turkey, are forced to hide their religious identity, according to the Hurriyet daily newspaper.

Since the Islamic State (ISIS) invaded Iraqi and Syrian cities, Christians and Yazidis have become the group's main target, facing another possible genocide at the hands of Muslims.

Anonis Alis Salciyan, an Armenian who fled Iraq for Turkey, told Hurriyet that in public, they pretend to be Muslim.

"My husband and I fled [Iraq] with our two children one year ago with around 20 other families. There was pressure on us in Iraq," Salciyan said, recalling that her husband, who ran a jewelry shop in Iraq, is now unemployed. "We have relatives in Europe. Only thanks to their support are we getting by. Our children cannot go to school here; they cannot speak Turkish."

What makes the plight of Christian refugees in Turkey even more tragic is that the ancestors of some of those refugees were driven out of Anatolia by the Ottoman authorities and local Muslims a century ago, during what are known as the Armenian Genocide and Assyrian Genocide of 1915.

Another family, Linda and Vahan Markaryan, also fled to Turkey with their two children. Their home in Baghdad had been raided by ISIS jihadists.

"My daughter, Nuşik, seven, stopped talking that day. She has not spoken since. We are working hard to provide her treatment, but she still will not speak," Linda Markaryan said, adding that it was hard for them to practice their religion. "We have to conduct our prayers at home."

Islamic jihadist armies invaded Middle Eastern and North African lands starting in the 7th century. The indigenous, non-Muslim, peoples of those lands have doubtless forgotten what safety, security and religious freedom mean.

In every country that is now majority-Muslim, there are horror stories of violent subjugation, rapes, slavery and murder of the non-Muslim people at the hands of jihadists.

Christians have existed in Syria since the earliest days of Christianity; today, after the raids of ISIS, they are fleeing for their lives.

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