Assyriac: Denied in Its Own Homeland,
|By Aprim Shapira - London|
The London Borough of Ealing is using Assyriac, as well as English and other languages, to make its official announcements regarding the upcoming parliament and local government elections for the year 2002. Last summer all British citizens, including Assyrians residing in Ealing, received this official message not only in English but also in our beloved national language.
Can any one imagine that such deep-rooted, noble language of an advanced and historic culture, which has spawned today's civilization could be denied in its homeland and recognized in foreign countries? Is it conceivable that an indigenous people could be deprived of its basic rights, be hounded by security police or even imprisoned because of claiming the right to use one’s own language, while at the same time a foreign country provides that same people protection, work and study opportunities and the freedom to speak one’s mother tongue? Not only this, but this foreign country allows him to practice his culture and customs, to establish his organizations and political parties, as well as supporting him financially and legally.
I am sure that for most of us, as Assyrians, the answer will be YES. Such contradictions in our times are a reflection of the contrast between democratic countries and dictatorships. Facts, reality, truth, open-mindedness in understanding the differences and accepting others are the main principles of democracy, while falseness, betrayal and intolerance characterize oppressive regimes. Neither of them can rule without these principles and traits.
living in democratic
The number of
Assyrians living in their homeland, i.e.,
According to the ideology of the Iraqi Ba'ath party, concepts such “Assyrians” are purely products of imperialism and of local reactionism. For the ruling Iraqi regime, Assyrians do not exist as a different ethnicity. More so, the Assyriac or (Syriac) language is merely considered Arabic except with a different accent, and it is said to differ from real Arabic only in regard to religion. (For more details, see my book "Assyrians in Iraqi Contemporary Thought"). This is the fundamental principle of Ba'ath and of racialist Arabs in their false allegation that Assyrians are Christian Arabs. In order to conceal such unacceptable tyrannnical policies from human rights organizations and to improve its horrible record in human rights abuses, the Ba'ath ruling party has issued many resolutions with regard to Iraqi minorities rights which are no more than a piece of a paper, purely lip service and in no way genuine.
Ba'ath party has found a handful Assyrians who are controlled by an
inferiority complex and pant over the "generosity of the
leader", particularly among clergymen who are no more that
dwarfs and timeservers among our Great and
recommendation to "Assyrians Arabists" "who have Arab
blood flowing in their veins"
is that if they have a chance and sufficient courage to read the book
"Fe Sabeel Al Ba'ath" (For the Sake of Ba'ath) written by
Michael Aflaq, the godfather of Ba'ath. Aflaq addressed the Christians
Arabs in these terms "You can never be a worthy, faithful and
loyal citizen of your country unless
you understand and accept Islam as a spirit for you, because Arab is a
body and Islam is its soul".
Ironically, even Mr. Aflaq, the misfortune godfather, changed his
religion from Christianity to Islam but he never was a faithful and
loyal citizen to his country,
Finally, while talking about fundamental principles of dictatorial regime, I would like to recall an old Arab allegory for our readers:
There were two honey retailers in the same market. The first one was honorable and reliable in his trade, offering pure honey at a reasonable price but day by day his business declined until finally he went bankrupt. The second one was deceitful and untruthful, swindling his customers by selling adulterated honey and at a higher price than his colleague. His enterprise grew day by day until he monopolized the honey market. The first man made a demand appealing for justice. The astonished ruler asked him whether anything was wrong with his honey. The retailer replied, "Not at all, I used to offer pure honey in a highly esteemed way, while my competitor offered his adulterated honey in a dishonest and hypocritical manner". The ruler then shouted angrily at him:" Go and do the same".
The first time I heard this story was in early 70s from the renowned writer Shamasha Giwarkis De Asheta who concluded that a despotic ruler cannot govern without falsifying facts, accepting imposture and legerdemain, deceiving people and forcing them into submission. Today the wisdom of the allegory helps us understand the policies of Arabization toward the small and peaceful Assyrian nation.