After the establishment of Islam as a state religion in the Fertile Crescent by the eighth century, the ferocious attacks by the Timurids, plundering the region as they descended from Central Asia in the fourteenth century, drove many Christian Aramaic speakers who did not convert to Islam into the mountains of the Taurus, Hakkari, and the Zagros for shelter. Others remained in their ancestral villages on the Mosul (Nineveh) Plain only to face heavy pressure to assimilate into Arab culture. The greatest catastrophe to visit the Assyrians in the modern period was the genocide committed against them, as Christians, during the Great War. From the Assyrian renaissance experienced when, miraculously, they became the objects of Western Christian missionary educational and medical efforts, the Assyrians fell into near oblivion. Shunned
by the Allies at the treaties that ended WWI and after, Assyrians drifted into Diaspora,
destructive denominationalism, and fierce assimilation tendencies as exercised by chauvinistic Arab, Persian and Turkish state entities. Today they face the growing clout of their old enemies and neighbors, the Kurds, another Muslim ethnic group that threatens to control power, demand assimilation, and offer to engulf Assyrians as the price for continuing to live in the ancient
Assyrian homeland. As half of the world’s last Aramaic-speaking population has arrived in unwanted Diaspora, some voices are making an impact, including that of Frederick Aprim.
—Eden Naby, PhD
AFGHANISTAN: MULLAH, MARX AND MUJAHID (Westview, 2002)
THE ASSYRIAN EXPERIENCE (Harvard College Library, 1999)