The collapse of the Ottoman Empire and survival strategies of Christian communities in Greater Syria

Author: Sotiris Roussos

Publication: Contemporary Levant

DOI: 10.1080/20581831.2021.1881719

Published online: 24 February 2021

The millet system compartmentalised religious communities into different sociopolitical environments under the overarching Ottoman imperial realm. However, during the nineteenth century, state transformation and crisis and the global re-allocation of political and economic power led to the exacerbation of ethnoreligious conflicts. Facing the collapse of the Ottoman imperium and the threat of extinction, the Greek Orthodox, Assyrian, Chaldean and Syrian Orthodox communities developed five survival strategies. The first was co-optation by state authorities; the second, protection of the Great Powers; the third armed resistance and the creation of autonomous enclaves; the fourth was that of exodus; and the last was to integrate themselves into Arab nationalism, lowering the banner of religion and becoming strong advocates of an Arab national identity encompassing Muslims and Christians alike. This paper aims to present a comparative approach to these strategies in the period from the beginning of the twentieth century to the formation of the Mandates.

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Christianity in the Middle East (CME) | Report no.1

The aim of the CME report is to present and address the main features related to Christians living in the Middle East in regard to religious plularism and peaceful coexistence. The region of focus includes Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine, Iran, Iraq and Turkey. Moreover, emphasis is attributed to the relationship between the state and its institutions with the Christian communities, as well as in pinpoiting the factors and effects related to the Christian exodus from the Middle East. The documentation of the report reflects the research openly available on the CME website and serves as a database for the living conditions of the Christians in the Middle East. The CME reports are an ongoing endeavour, aiming at providing continuous updates on the state of religious pluralism for the Christians of the Middle East. The findings presented, therefore, are not exhaustive, but highlight main trends and continuities.

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Last Christian in Idlib recalls his community

Author: Mouneb Taim

Publication Date: 17/1/2022

Source: Al Monitor

Michel Boutros is a 90-year-old Christian in Syria’s Idlib who has turned into an icon of steadfastness despite the bloodshed of the war that has been plaguing his country for 10 years now.

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Old but gold: An elderly sitting on the balcony of his bombed home in Homs

Publication Date: 18/1/2022

Source: Syriawise

On May 1, 2012 a two-minute video of an elderly man sitting on the balcony of his bombed home in Homs, Syria was posted on YouTube.
The man was Abu William Kaddoura, a Christian who steadfastly refused to leave his neighborhood that had been destroyed by the Syrian Army under orders of Bashar Assad.

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‘Now there is no one’: The lament of one of the last Christians in a Syrian city

Author: Hwaida Saad, Ben Hubbard

Publication Date: 24/1/2022

Source: New York Times

On Christmas Day, Michel Butros al-Jisri, one of the last Christians in the Syrian city of Idlib, didn’t attend services, because the Islamic rebels who control the area had long since locked up the church. Nor did he gather with friends and relatives to celebrate around a tree because nearly all of his fellow Christians have either died or fled during Syria’s 10-year civil war.

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Syria: Christians in Aleppo mobilizing for the poorest

Publication Date: 27/12/2021

Source: Vatican News

In many parishes in Aleppo, Christians of different denominations have organized themselves so that no one is left behind. The solidarity of Christian communities allows thousands of people to survive and regain some hope.

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Christians pick up the pieces in war-torn Syria

Author: Ben Joseph

Publication Date: 18/1/2022

Source: UCA News

Christians in Syria have been enduring an 11-year war compounded by migration, misery, sanctions, blockades, death and indifference. Their churches have been damaged, looted or even bombed, but they are picking up the pieces to restart religious life in the war-torn Middle Eastern nation.

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Religious minorities in Iran worship freely

Publication Date: 16/1/2022

Source: Anadolu Agency

The narrow, winding lanes of the Jolfa neighborhood in Iran's central Isfahan province, along the southern bank of Zayandeh-Rud River, are still basking in the ambiance of Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.

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Iran frees nine Christian convicted of anti-state activities

Publication Date: 11/01/2022

Source: Asia News

This is a positive sign even though Rev Matthias Abdulreza Ali Haghnejad and eight members of the Church of Iran still face a review of their trial. For religious advocacy group, the charges are unfounded; those involved simply exercised their right to freedom of worship. A number of Christian inmates enjoy a 10-day leave at Christmas.

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Iran Christian prisoners get rare 10-day holiday leave

Publication Date: 26/12/2021

Source: Al Arabiya News

The head of Iran's judiciary on Sunday granted Christian prisoners 10 days' liberty to spend the holidays with families, in a rare move towards the minority community.

Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei instructed authorities across the country to issue the dispensation, according to the judiciary's Mizan Online website.

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Syria’s IDPs Live Amidst Ancient Christian Sites

Publication Date: 30/12/2021

Source: Persecution - International Christian Concern

The historic Christian ruins of Sarjableh and Babisqa are now home to some of Syria’s internally displaced persons. There are some 2.8 million displaced people in northwest Syria, with only 1.7 million of them in sites for IDPs. Families who struggle to locate places to live utilize historic Christian sites, once attractions to locals and tourists, to set up their tents.

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