Syrian Refugee Syriac Couple Get Married in the Monastery

ICC Note: The Syrian civil war has created a massive refugee problem with more than 2 million having fled into neighboring countries. For these individuals and families there is a struggle for life to remain some sense of normalcy, including relationships and starting marriages. Many of the Christians from Syria have stayed out of refugee camps which they fear will turn into an open air prison. The local Christian community has attempted to open their doors to these refugees, but it has put a large strain on the churches.

8/10/2013 Turkey (Hurriyet Daily News) – Syriac young men and women who recently escaped from the civil war-hit Syria are walking down the aisle in Turkey’s southeastern province of Mardin.

Nearly 150 Syriac families have not settled in Turkey’s special camps for Syrian refugees due to their safety concerns and are taking shelter in monasteries in Mardin. However this humanitarian crisis situation is also bringing happiness for some of the young people who meet at the monasteries. They are falling in love and pairing up.

The Hürriyet Daily News attended the marriage ceremony of Syrian refugee Elida and Mardin local Engin Bayruğ Aug. 7 in Mardin’s Midyat district.

The antique Deyrulzafaran Monastery hosted the marriage ceremony, a first in its recent history. Syriac wine and food were served to the accompaniment of Arabic, Turkish and English songs but Syriac which was listed one of UNESCO’s endangered languages list, was not used since most of the population could not speak their ancestral tongue.

The young couple’s relative Ferit Özaltun said there were some 80 local Syriac families living in Mardin and the number of families that fled from Syria was 150. Özaltun said young people were meeting in the monasteries and some of them ended up getting married after a while.

“At least we find solace in the happiness of our youngsters; new families are being built, and this makes us happy,” Özaltun told the Daily News.

Özaltun said even though both sides were Syriac, cultural differences might surface from time to time. “A young woman from Syria and a young man from Turkey, even though both are Syriac, have cultural, political and educational differences,” he said.

Deyrülzafaran Monastery is the first Syriac foundation in Turkey to welcome the Syriac refugees, who have been avoiding refugee camps over security concerns. The Syriac community is asking for a separate camp to be established for them as they do not want to settle in the existing camps along the border.

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