Syriac Christians revive ancient language despite war

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The Ourhi Centre in Qamishli is considered the first language and cultural centre launched by Syriac Chrisitians in northern Syria. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

QAMISHLI – The Syriac-Assyrian Christians in Syria’s Hasakah, like other communities in the province, are trying to  revive their language and have education in their mother-tongue. The ongoing instability in the country has given the Syriac-Assyrians an opportunity to have education in their own language.

Prior to the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, the Syriac-Assyrian Christians were not allowed to have education in their own language, similar to the Kurds. The only language of education used to be Arabic, due to the totalitarian policies of the ruling Baath Party that excluded other ethnic minorities. This Christian community has shown appreciation for this great opportunity that came amid the current hard situation in Syria. 

The Syriac-Assyrians have recently launched a language centre known as “Ourhi Centre” in the city of Qamishli in Syria’s northeastern Hasakah province. The project is aimed at educating the Assyrian language and train potential teachers to bear the mission of reviving this ancient language.

“Our centre is responsible for training teachers specialised in the Syriac language to enable them teach different subjects in this language,” Jan Malfon, director of Ourhi Centre, told ARA News in Qamishli.

“This is the first time ever that our community launches its own language and cultural centre,” he said. 

Several languages, including Assyrian, will be taught within the new curriculum at schools under the sponsorship of the Self-Administration of Northern Syria and Rojava.

Lorin Afram, a Syriac language teacher in Qamishli, told ARA News: “We started our first Syriac course in the centre with an institutional level in order to teach students the basics of written and spoken Syriac.” 

Also, Mirna Saliba, a  Syriac student at the Ourhi Centre, said: “Learning the Syriac-Assyrian language would help us better understand our culture and history in order to pass this knowledge to the next generations and guarantee them learning their mother-tongue.”

Reporting by: Ahmed Shiwesh

Source: ARA News

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