Assyrians in the United Kingdom
|Regions with significant populations|
|Chaldean Catholic Church, Assyrian Church of the East|
Assyrians in the United Kingdom include ethnic Assyrians born or residing in the United Kingdom. Concentrations of Assyrians are found in Greenford and Hanwell, small towns in the London Borough of Ealing.
Religion & Culture
Assyrian people are exclusively Christian. They fall into a number of Eastern Rite Churches, the most common being the Ancient Church of the East, the Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church and Syriac Orthodox Church. A Chaldean Catholic Church is rented in Acton, London and an Assyrian Ancient Church of the East Church and Club are owned by the Assyrians in South Ealing. The priest of the Chaldean Church is currently Father Habib al-Noufaly. The former Chaldean priest was Father Andreas, now a bishop, ordained in Rome by the Pope in 2004.
The earliest recorded Assyrian in the UK was Hormuzd Rassam the famed archaeologist. He became a diplomat in the UK in the mid-19th century and settled in Brighton. The theologian and orientalist Alphonse Mingana was also a notable early arrival in the Edwardian period. Assyrians have traditionally migrated to Britain from their ancestral homelands in Iraq, south eastern Turkey, north eastern Syria and north western Iran
As a result of the Great Game, a diplomatic struggle and "cold war" between the Tsardom of Russia and the British Empire, the Assyrians and Kurds became involved in the political interference of the Great Powers. Both groups sought independence from the aged Ottoman Empire. With the outbreak of the First World War, the Assyrians sided with the British, in the hope of receiving a promised independence. (The Assyrians suffered greatly for this, and hundreds of thousands were massacred during the Assyrian Genocide of World War I). However, at the Treaty of Versailles, the Assyrian delegates were refused entrance; in 1933 the Assyrians suffered one of their worst persecutions when thousands were wiped out in the Simele Massacre. This was in retaliation for assisting the British in the First World War, who occupied Iraq. Ironically, the Arabs and Kurds had also assisted the British, but only the Assyrians remained loyal to the British as levies. During the British Mandate of Mesopotamia Assyrian Levies were used by the British to protect their interests and to put down Arab and Kurdish insurrections. The outbreak of the Second World War found 40,000 Assyrian soldiers fighting for the British. In the Anglo-Iraqi War, the Assyrians played a decisive role in providing Britain with the much needed man power to defeat the pro-Nazi Arab rebel forces in the region; another example of Assyrian participation in the war was a mission in Sarandë, Albania in 1945, when 75 per cent of a paratrooper attack was composed of Assyrian troops, the rest being Kurds.
Many more Assyrians fled Iraq for the UK during the rule of the Baathist regime from 1963-2003 due to racial persecution. A further influx occurred as a result of the al-Anfal Campaign against Iraqi minorities in the 1980s, and again after the Gulf War (1990–91). Following the Invasion of Iraq in 2003, more Assyrians fled to the UK in the face of increased religious and ethnic persecution from Arab Islamists and Kurdish Nationalists, including bombing of churches.
In recent years, the Assyrians have received support from a number of parliamentarians, in particular MP Steven Pound of Ealing and Lord Hylton. Issues raised included the racial and religious persecution of Assyrians by Kurds and Arabs, and a brief outline of their history since the "Great Game". Assyrians received increased media coverage with the kidnapping and death of a Chaldean Catholic Bishop in Iraq.
Other groups of Assyrians have fled Iran due to religious persecution, Syria due to ethnic discrimination, and Turkey due to both ethnic and religious discrimination. Many have also left Armenia due to poor economic prospects.
- 2002 Russian census
- Watts, Greg (2005-02-05). "At your service". The Times (London). Retrieved 2009-03-19.
- http://newsweaver.co.uk/visitingarts/e_article000311909.cfm?x=b11,0,w mentions an Assyrian club
- http://www.kaldaya.net/2009/01/Jan27_09_E1_ChaldeanChurch_Vatican2009.html, on the Pope's right
- "Modern Aramaic Dictionary & Phrasebook" By Nicholas Awde. Page 11.