Aramaic Relations in Syria Strain Further

“Syria is according to information received by the Society for Threatened Peoples -STP (Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker GfbV) increasing pressure on the Assyrian Aramaic language and culture. The international human rights organisation with its centre in Göttingen stated on Tuesday that the Syrian secret service has forbidden a performance of the popular Assyrian Aramaic musician, Habib Mousa, at a concert of another artist in the city of Kamishli in the north-east of the country. For the Assyrian Aramaic Christians this ban is a sign that the totalitarian Baath Party, which has ruled since 1963, is still pursuing its goal of forcible Arabicisation of the Assyrian Chaldaic and Kurdish ethnic groups”, criticised the chair of the German section of the STP, Tilman Zülch. “The intention is to ensure that the Christians give up among other things their New Aramaic language in favour of Arabic.” The opposition Assyrian Democratic Organisation ADO also sharply condemned the ban on the performance by the Syrian authorities.”


3 thoughts on “Aramaic Relations in Syria Strain Further

  1. Doesn’t the Syrian government fund a program to keep the Western Aramaic dialect spoken in Maaloula alive?

    And I’ve heard about schools in Syria set up by churches to teach the Assyrian dialect. Of all things to go after, why a singer? Are there any other examples of arabization that have occured over the years that they can cite?

    Cancelling this one performer and jumping to the conclusion that the government is committing linguicide seems like a bit of a stretch. I’m not defending the Syrian government or taking sides, but it seems odd to me.

  2. Anon,

    Speaking of Maloula, where it has been reported from several other sources (and where I have been holding off on posting about it as I wait for correspondence back from the Aramaic Language Institute itself), there has been a recent row where the language preservation program was put under scrutiny in the local media because the alphabet that is employed to teach Maloula Aramaic is “too much like Hebrew” (regardless of the fact that the modern Hebrew alphabet was borrowed from Aramaic). Hence the the title of my post “Strain Further.”

    I make no claim that AINA is a “balanced” source (as it is a rather “reactionary” publication) and I certainly don’t think it’s a Syrian government conspiracy. 🙂

    However, there *is* tension over these sorts of delicate situations as is clear by the recent press coverage, local sentiment and reactions such as this (which is why I found it newsworthy to include here on my blog).


  3. Following their earlier ban on the Aramaic programme because it used Aramaic square letters (which reminded them of Hebrew a little too much!) I have heard that Syria is now going to re-start the Aramaic programme in the summer, but with the Syriac script instead. This script is probably more appropriate anyway.

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