Syriac couple finds love across refugee border

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After fleeing war-torn Syria, young Syriac Christian (a branch of Eastern Christianity) men and women living in Turkey’s southeastern province of Mardin are finding love in the local community, Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News reported on Saturday.

There are some 80 local Turkish Syriac families in Mardin, as well as the 150 families of Syrian refugees. Young people have been meeting in the monasteries, and some are even getting married, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Syrian refugee Elida and Mardin local Engin Bayrug got married on August 7 in the town of Midyat, where Mardin’s Turkish Syriac population is concentrated.

Nearly 150 Syriac Christian refugee families are living in monasteries in Mardin. The families avoided Turkey’s special camps in the southeast for Syrian refugees because of safety concerns, the newspaper reported.

The marriage ceremony was held in the ancient Deyrulzafaran Monastery, the first in the monastery’s recent history. Syriac wine and food were served and Arabic, Turkish and English songs were played.

“At least we find solace in the happiness of our youngsters; new families are being built, and this makes us happy,” Ferit Ozaltun, a relative of the young couple, told the newspaper.

Ozaltun said even though both sides were Syriac Christians, there were still cultural differences.

“A young woman from Syria and a young man from Turkey, even though both are Syriac, have cultural, political and educational differences,” he said.

Deyrulfarazan Monastery is the first Syriac foundation in Turkey to welcome Syrian refugees. Syriac Christians have been avoiding refugee camps over security concerns.

Plans made earlier this year to build a special camp for Syriac Christians fleeing to Turkey have failed after a series of meetings in Ankara, according to the newspaper.

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