Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Syrian minority in Turkey

The BBC Arabic is running a documentary about a religious minority in Syria called the Alawites. Now, the Alawites are the group to which the current Syrian president Assad al Bashar belongs, but this documentary was not political at all. It was just about culture and life.

This is one of their religious leaders:

Alawites are Muslim, but this leader was saying how in their tradition, they respect Christianity a lot, too. He pointed out that in the Quran (the Muslim holy book), Jesus and Mary are mentioned more often than Mohamed, the Prophet of Islam.

They also interviewed an Alawite Syrian family living now in Bulgaria. The mom was saying how she always gets so excited about Christmas, because they were all integrated with those holidays, and Christmas meant they got to decorate the tree!

The Alawite community they were talking to lives in a Turkish city called Hatay. This city was originally Syrian until it changed hands. But it sounds like the people living there were mostly left alone to continue living as they had lived.

A man was giving a tour of the city. They are proud of it because it has so much water and is so green. 

And they still remember their Syrian roots. This man, for example, is pointing to mountains in the distance. The mountains are in Syria. He says they're only about 150 kilometers away.  It sounded important that they remember their Syrian roots.

Another man, though, spoke with more trepidation. He said that he was afraid they might lose their Arabic traditions and language, not because of government stringency and force, but just because they don't have the capacity to teach the "small fry" all about their origins. In fact, some of the older people still only speak Arabic; but then the young teens, some of them only speak Turkish.

 This last picture is from some sort of celebration - I think they have it yearly - where they honor both Muslim religious figures, and the founder of the modern Turkish state, Ataturk!

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