letter to the Chaldean, Syriac and Assyrian
Baghdad concerning a common name for our Iraqi people
which share the same Aramaic national heritage.
The story of Christianity in
the Middle East is long and very interesting. Many political, cultural and
theological factors led to the establishment of the Christian Churches in
the Middle East. The name of each church has become both social and ethnic
Today’s Assyrians, Chaldeans,
Maronites, Melkites and Syriacs are the original people in the Middle
East; they belong to the same Aramean people and the Aramaic rich culture.
Many of them still speak Neo-Aramaic or use Syriac in liturgy. These
Churches are aware of their common origin and Aramaic cultural heritage
which is a common denominator. In the same time they face strong
challenges on different levels, but in order to survive they have to
cooperate more than any time.
The Christians in Iraq are
facing a new era which is full of hopes and troubles. The absence of the
old Iraqi regime has opened a debate concerning the issue of the common
origin and one future of the groups of our people
themselves Chaldeans, Syriacs and Assyrians. The biggest church in
Iraq is the Chaldean with about 600.000 members, followed by the Syriac
churches with their 300.000 members and the Assyrian churches with their
100.000 members (These numbers are according to the Iraqi magazine al-Fikr
al-Masihi No. 383 - 384, page 63, 2003).
Our people in the “modern”
Iraq should take advantage of the late political development by demanding
their rights to participate in building their country which should be a
home for all Iraqis regardless ethnical belongings, and to take hand of
their Aramaic heritage.
A great problem is facing our
people that it is divided into many ethnical and religious groups with a
special name for each group. The current political development has led the
Aramaic-speaking groups in Iraq to seek a common name which will represent
all of them and would be accepted by all. If it succeeds it would be a
good example for our people all over the world. Representatives from these
groups met a couple of times to discuss the issue of ONE name. The
meetings were courageous steps, but many difficulties are waiting on the
way of the common name. We know that failure in this period is stronger
than good hopes and success.
We, the organizations which
sign this document, are aware of the impossibility of this immature
mission today. In order to avoid sensitive problems of agreeing ONE common
name we advice each group of our people to continue bearing its church and
ethnic name and not to change it into another, at the same time we suggest
a quick solution that is to use the name of our language by calling
ourselves ”the Aramaic-speakers” until an agreement can be reached in a
beautiful day in the near or far future.
To be called
“Aramaic-speakers” is a positive and great step as long as most of us
speak Neo-Aramaic and use Syriac in liturgy. “Aramaic-speakers” is a good
name which has a potential unifying strength within it. The name is
neither a religious nor sectarian. The logical way of thinking would lead
everybody and every group to an unhesitatingly accept it.
following Organizations wish all the groups of our people in Iraq to take
their historical responsibility and act wisely to accept calling
1. Syriac Universal Alliance,
Aramaic Democratic Organization,
Organization of the Middle East Christians,
4. General Assembly of
Lebanese Syriac Christians,
Aramean Academic Association