Christians in Syria
make up about 10% of the population.
The country's largest Christian denomination is the Eastern Orthodox Church of Antioch
(known as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch
and All the East),
closely followed by the Melkite Catholic Church
, one of the Eastern Catholic Churches
, which has a common root with the Eastern Orthodox Church of Antioch,
and then by an Oriental Orthodoxy
churches like Syriac Orthodox Church
and Armenian Apostolic Church
. There are also a minority of Protestants
and members of the Assyrian Church of the East
and Chaldean Catholic Church
. The city of Aleppo
is believed to have the largest number of Christians in Syria.
In the late Ottoman rule, a large percentage of Syrian Christians emigrated from Syria, especially after the bloody chain of events that targeted Christians in particular in 1840, the 1860 massacre
, and the Assyrian genocide
. According to historian Philip Hitti
, approximately 900,000 Syrians arrived in the United States between 1899 and 1919 (more than 90% of them Christians).
The Syrians referred include historical Syria or the Levant encompassing Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine. Syrian Christians tend to be relatively wealthy and highly educated
Christians in the Syrian Arab Republic
Approximately 5% of the population
The Christian population of Syria comprise 10% of the population.
In Syria today there around 1.2 million among their population in Syria in 2010 before the civil war started. Most Syrians are members of either the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch
(700,000), or the Syriac Orthodox Church
. The vast majority of Catholics belong to the Melkite Greek Catholic Church
, which was created as a result of a schism within the Greek Orthodox Church, largely over a disputed election to the Patriarchal See of Antioch in 1724. Other Christian Churches in union with Rome include the Maronites, Syriac Catholics, Armenians, Chaldeans and a small number of Latin Rite Catholics. The rest belong to the Eastern communions
, which have existed in Syria since the earliest days of Christianity. The main Eastern groups are:
The schisms that brought about the many sects resulted from political and doctrinal disagreements. The doctrine most commonly at issue was the nature of Christ. In 431, the Nestorians
were separated from the main body of the Church because of their belief in the dual character of Christ, i.e., that he had two distinct but inseparable "qnoma
, close in meaning to, but not exactly the same as, hypostasis
), the human Jesus and the divine Logos. Therefore, according to Nestorian belief, Mary
was not the mother of God but only of the man Jesus
. The Council of Chalcedon
, representing the mainstream of Christianity, in 451 confirmed the dual nature of Christ in one person; Mary was therefore the mother of a single person, mystically and simultaneously both human and divine. The Miaphysites
taught that the Logos took on an instance of humanity as His own in one nature. They were the precursors of the present-day Syrian and Armenian Orthodox churches.
By the thirteenth century, breaks had developed between Eastern or Greek Christianity and Western or Latin Christianity. In the following centuries, however, especially during the Crusades, some of the Eastern churches professed the authority of the pope in Rome and entered into or re-affirmed communion with the Catholic Church. Today called the Eastern Catholic churches, they retain a distinctive language, canon law and liturgy.
The largest Christian denomination in Syria is the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch
(officially named the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch
and All the East), also known as the Melkite
church after the 5th and 6th century Christian schisms, in which its clergy remained loyal to the Eastern Roman Emperor ("melek
") of Constantinople
Adherents of that denomination generally call themselves "al-Rûm
" which means "Eastern Roman"
or "Asian Greek
" in Turkish
. In that particular context, the term "Rûm" is used in preference to "Yāvāni
" or "Ionani
" which means "European-Greek
" or Ionian
in Biblical Hebrew
and Classical Arabic
. The appellation "Greek" refers to the Koine Greek liturgy
used in their traditional prayers and priestly rites.
Members of the community sometimes also call themselves "Melkites", which literally means "supporters of the emperor"
in Semitic languages - a reference to their past allegiance to Roman
imperial rule. But, in the modern era, this designation tends to be more commonly used by followers of the local Melkite Catholic Church
Syrians from the Greek Orthodox Community are also present in the Hatay Province
of Southern Turkey
(bordering Northern Syria), and have been well represented within the Syrian diasporas
of Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, the United States, Canada and Australia.
Syriac Orthodox Church
The Syriac Orthodox Church is the largest Oriental Orthodox
Christian group in Syria. The Syriac Orthodox
or Jacobite Church, whose liturgy is in Syriac
, was severed from the favored church of the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Orthodoxy), over the Chalcedonian
Armenian Apostolic Church
Of the Eastern Catholic Churches
the oldest is the Maronite
, with ties to Rome dating at least from the twelfth century. Their status before then is unclear, some claiming it originally held to the Monothelite heresy up until 1215, while the Maronite Church claims it has always been in union with Rome. The liturgy is in Aramaic (Syriac).
Syrian Christians in a church in Damascus 2017
The Patriarchate of Antioch
never recognized the mutual excommunications of Rome and Constantinople of 1054, so it was canonically still in union with both. After a disputed patriarchal election in 1724, it divided into two groups, one in union with Rome and the other with Constantinople. Today the term "Melkite" is in use mostly among the Greek Catholics
of Syria and Lebanon. Like its sister-church the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch
('Eastern Orthodox'), the Melkite Greek Catholic Church
uses both Greek and Arabic in its traditional liturgy
. Most of the 375,000 Catholics in Syria belong to the Melkite Rite, the rest are Latin Rite, Maronites (52,000), Armenian or Syriac Rites.
Popes of the Catholic Church
Status of Christians in Syria
was one of the first regions to receive Christianity during the ministry of St Peter
. There were more Christians in Damascus than anywhere else. With the military expansion of the Islamic Umayyad
empire into Syria
who retained their native faiths were required to pay a tax (jizya
) equivalent to the Islamic Zakat
, and were permitted to own land; they were, however, not eligible for Islamic social welfare as Muslims were.
Damascus still contains a sizeable proportion of Christians, with some churches all over the city, but particularly in the district of Bab Touma
(The Gate of Thomas
). Masses are held every Sunday and civil servants
are given Sunday mornings off to allow them to attend church, even though Sunday is a working day in Syria. Schools in Christian-dominated districts have Saturday and Sunday as the weekend, while the official Syrian weekend falls on Friday and Saturday.
During the Syrian civil war, several attacks by ISIS
or Kurdish militias have targeted Syrian Christians, including the 2015 al-Qamishli bombings
and the July 2016 Qamishli bombings
. In January 2016, YPG
militias conducted a surprise attack on Assyrian checkpoints in Qamishli, in a predominantly Assyrian area, killing one Assyrian and wounding three others.
Christians engage in every aspect of Syrian life and Syrian Christians are relatively wealthy and more highly educated
than other Syrian religious groups.
Following in the traditions of Paul
, who practiced his preaching and ministry in the marketplace
, Syrian Christians are participants in the economy, the academic, scientific, engineering, arts, and intellectual life, entertainment, and the Politics of Syria
. Many Syrian Christians are public sector and private sector managers and directors, while some are local administrators, members of Parliament, and ministers in the government. A number of Syrian Christians are also officers in the armed forces of Syria. They have preferred to mix in with Muslims rather than form all-Christian units and brigades, and fought alongside their Muslim compatriots against Israeli
forces in the various Arab–Israeli conflicts
of the 20th century. In addition to their daily work, Syrian Christians also participate in volunteer activities in the less developed areas of Syria. As a result, Syrian Christians are generally viewed by other Syrians as an asset to the larger community. In September 2017, the deputy Hammouda Sabbagh
, a Syriac Orthodox Christian and member of the Ba'ath Party
, was elected speaker of parliament with 193 votes out of 252.
Syrian Christians are more urbanized
than Muslims; many live either in or around Aleppo
, or Latakia
. In the 18th century, Christians were relatively wealthier than Muslims in Aleppo.
Syrian Christians have their own courts that deal with civil cases like marriage, divorce and inheritance based on Bible
teachings. Noteworthy Syrian Christians include the chronicler Paul of Aleppo
, the chess player Philip Stamma
, the Syrian actor Bassem Yakhour
and the Syrian Armenian musician George Tutunjian
The Constitution of Syria
states that the President of Syria
has to be a Muslim; this was as a result of popular demand at the time the constitution was written. However, Syria does not profess a state religion.
On 31 January 1973, Hafez al-Assad implemented the new constitution (after reaching power through a military coup in 1970), which led to a national crisis. Unlike previous constitutions, this one did not require that the president of Syria to be of the Islamic faith, leading to fierce demonstrations in Hama
and Aleppo organized by the Muslim Brotherhood and the ulama
. They labeled Assad as the "enemy of Allah" and called for a jihad
against his rule.Robert D. Kaplan
has compared Assad's coming to power to " a Jew becoming tsar in Russia—an unprecedented development shocking to the Sunni majority population which had monopolized power for so many centuries."
The government survived a series of armed revolts
, mainly members of the Muslim Brotherhood, from 1976 until 1982.
Significant Christian populations.
Christians spread throughout Syria and have sizable populations in some cities/areas; important cities/areas are:
Syrian Christians during the Syrian Civil War
Syrian Christians, in line with their fellow citizens, have been badly affected by the Syrian Civil War
. According to Syrian law, all Syrian men of adult age with brothers are eligible for military conscription
, including Christians.
Since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, 300,000 to 900,000 Christians have left the country,[needs update]
but as the situation began to stabilize in 2017 following recent army gains, return of electricity and water to many areas and stability returning to many government controlled regions, some Christians began returning to Syria, most notably in the city of Homs
.[additional citation(s) needed]
- Michel Aflaq, philosopher and politician
- Ibrahim Haddad, Minister of Oil and Mineral Reserves (2001-2006)
- Yohanna Ibrahim, Syriac Orthodox Archbishop and kidnapping victim
- Nouri Iskandar, composer
- Sami al-Jundi, politician
- Maxim Khalil, actor
- Fares al-Khoury, Prime Minister of Syria (1944-1945) and (1954-1955)
- Paul of Aleppo, Greek Orthodox Archbishop and kidnapping victim
- Dawoud Rajiha, Minister of Defence (2011-2012)
- Hammouda Sabbagh, Speaker of the People's Council of Syria since 2017
- Mikhail Wehbe, Permanent Representative of Syria to the United Nations (1996-2003)
- ^ a b CIA World Factbook, People and Society: Syria
- ^ Gulf/2000 Project (2018). "Syria Religious Composition 2018". Columbia University - School of International and Public Affairs.
- ^ Bailey, Betty Jane; Bailey, J. Martin (2003). Who Are the Christians in the Middle East?. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans. p. 191. ISBN 0-8028-1020-9.
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- ^ Hitti, Philip (2005) . The Syrians in America. Gorgias Press. ISBN 1-59333-176-2.
- ^ a b Why Do So Few Christian Syrian Refugees Register With The United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees?, Marwan Kreidie: Adjunct Professor of Political Science, West Chester University.
- ^ Lage- und Tätigkeitsbericht des Gustav-Adolf-Werkes für das Jahr 2013/14 Diasporawerk der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland (GAW yearly report, in German)
- ^ Johnstone, Patrick; Miller, Duane (2015). "Believers in Christ from a Muslim Background: A Global Census". IJRR. 11: 14. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
- ^ a b c Granli, Elisabet (2011). "Religious conversion in Syria : Alawite and Druze believers". University of Oslo.
- ^ John Platts (1825). A new universal biography, containing interesting accounts. Printed for Sherwood, Jones, and co. p. 479.
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- ^ http://aa.com.tr/en/politics/syrias-christians-pressured-by-forced-pyd-assimilation/541614
- ^ http://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-actu/2017/09/28/97001-20170928FILWWW00222-un-chretien-elu-a-la-tete-du-parlement-syrien.php
- ^ Saint Terzia Church in Aleppo Christians in Aleppo (in Arabic) Archived 2010-11-30 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ BBC News Guide: Christians in the Middle East, last update 15 December 2005.
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- ^ Syria: Homs Christians return to rebuild homes and lives - World Watch Monitor
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- Leonhardt, Christoph (2018). "The Greek- and the Syriac-Orthodox Patriarchates of Antioch in the Context of the Syrian Conflict" (PDF). Chronos: Revue d'Histoire de l'Université de Balamand. 33: 21–54. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-03-09.
- Meyendorff, John (1989). Imperial unity and Christian divisions: The Church 450-680 A.D. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.
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Last edited on 30 April 2021, at 02:17
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