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Arabic, Arabism and the Syriac Churches: Integrating Into the New State of Iraq

Thursday 6 October 2016
WHAT's NEW?! Fall Lecture Series
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
Lipsius 227

Arabic, Arabism and the Syriac Churches: Integrating Into the New State of Iraq

The history of Christianity in interwar Iraq is usually portrayed as a story of a failed relationship between the Christian minority and the Arab state. This is especially due to the troubled history of the Assyrian Christians in Iraq, who came in majority as refugees from the north and who are known to have resisted integration into Iraq. In 1933 they were victims of the massacre of Simele, when all men in this town were killed by police. However, in this lecture I want to argue that the majority of Christians in Iraq in these years belonged to groups that actively encouraged their role as an integrated part of the Arab Iraqi society. Many of these Christians, who almost all belonged to one of the Syriac churches, even supported Arab nationalism, although their mother tongue was in many cases not Arabic.

About Tijmen Baarda

Tijmen C. Baarda is finishing his Ph.D. dissertation at Leiden University about the Syriac Christians of Iraq between 1920 and 1950 and their use of the Arabic, Syriac and Neo-Aramaic languages in relationship to the Iraqi state in its formative phase. He is a member of the NWO-sponsored project Arabic and Its Alternatives under leadership of Professor Heleen Murre-van den Berg (Nijmegen), in which the use of Arabic and other languages by non-Muslim minorities is studied in the Arab countries in the years after the First World War.

The WHAT's NEW?! lecture is followed by drinks in cafe de Grote Beer (Rembrandtstraat 27).

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