Assyrians are a people in the Middle East who profess the ancient forms of the Christian religion, whose representatives are descendants of Ancient Assyria, the first empire in the history of mankind. Their number can be determined in the range from 1 million to 5 million.
Such a large interval is due to the fact that a number of Arab countries have not conducted population censuses for a long time, and also because of religious persecution, many people prefer to hide their nationality and religion.
So where did the Assyrians come from? How did they manage to keep themselves in a Muslim environment?
Already several millennia BC, most of the Middle East was under the control of Semitic tribes that migrated here from the territory of sub-equatorial Africa. Soon, various sizes and powers of the state began to appear in them: the kingdom of Israel and Sabei, Nabatea, Mine and others.
But the most powerful of them was Assyria, which expanded from Mesopotamia and soon began to rule the East. Under her rule, before the local Aramaic language became a truly international means of communication, which was spoken by all the Semites, and after that Jesus and his disciples preached. And the area joined by the Assyrians in the west was called Syria and bears this name to this day.
But closer to our era, the time has come for large empires. Mussel, and then Persia, conquered the entire region and even began to move to Europe. This ruined the Persians – they could not resist the protracted confrontation with the Greeks and were eventually conquered by the Macedonians Tsar Alexander.
By that time, the Assyrians had long been accustomed to exist within the framework of a foreign state and were good subjects. They owned the most “delicious” lands of the east and were very rich. And besides, unlike other Semites, they did not organize revolts, like the Jews, and did not commit predatory raids, like the Arabs.
Closer to our era, the territory of the Assyrians was divided between the Roman Empire and the Parthians, the historical heirs of Persia. The preservation of the unity of the people was threatened, but the adoption of the Christian faith, which contributed much to its consolidation, solved this problem.
Like the Jews, religion has become a factor in rallying. Despite the fact that over time the Assyrians almost completely switched to the Arabic language, they remained a single people, which was still not fully assimilated in the Muslim environment. Despite this, Assyrian Christianity was divided into several branches. Among them, the Nestorian movement was adopted, and eventually the Syro-Jacobite and Chaldean Catholic churches formed.
One way or another, faith helped them to survive for several millennia, again being between two millstones – the Ottoman Empire and the revived Persia. But at the beginning of the 20th century, the Assyrians did not have the best of times. The Ottoman state was already disintegrating, but it was still strong enough to create problems for those of its subjects who were considered to be responsible for the violation of the unity of the state.
As a result of the repression that was originally directed against the Armenians, they spread to the Assyrians. They started fleeing to any countries that were ready to receive them, and therefore now representatives of this people, in addition to their historical core in Iraq, live almost throughout the Middle East and even in countries such as the USA, Russia and Georgia.
And when, during the time of Saddam Hussein and after, the region became very bad again, the Assyrians were even allowed to enter Canada and Sweden. Now it is one of the few nations, which are fewer in their homeland, but more in the diaspora.