Assyrians/Syriacs in Sweden

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Total population
Regions with significant populations
Södertälje, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Örebro, Västerås, Norrköping, Linköping
Swedish, Aramaic, Arabic, Turkish
Mainly Christianity
(majority: Syriac Christianity; minority: Protestantism)

Assyrians or Syriacs (Swedish: Assyrier/Syrianer, that is, dual name "Assyrians/Syriacs" in official usage) are citizens and residents of Sweden who are of Middle Eastern Syriac Christian ancestry, including, by religious affiliation, Assyrian Nestorians, Chaldeans, Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholics.

Assyrians/Syrians first came to Sweden from Lebanon for work in the late 1960s when Europe needed laborers for its industries. However, with increased ethnic and religious persecution in their homeland, which is located in present-day southeastern Turkey, northern Iraq, northwestern Iran and northeastern Syria,[1] immigration to Sweden increased. Those who had lived in Sweden for a longer period of time were granted residency for humanitarian reasons given the conflicts in their place of origin.[2]


Södertälje is seen as the unofficial Assyrian/Syriac capital of Europe due to the city's high percentage of Assyrians/Syriacs, numbering 25,000 in 2013, a quarter of the population.[3] In 2005, the Syriac Orthodox Christians numbered an estimated 30–40,000 people in Sweden, while higher estimations were 70–80,000, out of which an estimated 18,000 lived in Södertälje.[4] According to Swedish government data, the Assyrian Church of the East has 6,112 members and the two Syriac Orthodox Churches have 50,396 members.[3] An estimation by the Syriac Christian community itself is 120,000.[5] The majority of the Assyrians/Syriacs are from the area of Tur Abdin and are Syriac Orthodox Christians.[3]

The number of Assyrians/Syriacs in Sweden is hard to determine due to census data omitting ethnic groups.[5] According to Statistics Sweden, as of 2016, there 22,663 are citizens of Iraq (12,705 men, 9,958 women) and 116,384 citizens of Syria (70,060 men, 46,324 women) residing in Sweden.[6]


The first Assyrians arrived in 1967 from Lebanon, numbering some 200 people.[7] The migration to Sweden may be broken up into a number of distinct periods. The first group consisted of those that came to work at Swedish manufacturing plants, such as Scania. There were then the subsequent waves after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, The Lebanese Civil War in 1975, the rise of Baathism in Iraq & Syria, the Iranian Revolution of 1979, and more recently, from Iraq and Syria as a result of the Iraq Wars (Gulf War in 1991, Iraq War in 2003, Iraqi Civil War in 2014–present) and the Syrian Civil War in 2011–present.


There is an ideological division of the Syriac Christians in Sweden between two main identities:[5][8]

To account for this division, official Swedish sources refer to the group as "Assyrier/Syrianer",[9] with a slash (similar to the US census, which opted for "Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac"). Both identities have the Aramean language as one of the most important markers.[5] The Syriac identity is more popular than the Assyrian identity in the Syriac Christian community in Sweden, according to surveys.[5] The declared Syriacs tend to name their ethnicity as Arameans.[5]

Community organisations[edit]

The Assyrian/Syriac community have established their own professional football (soccer) teams like Assyriska FF (Assyrian identity) and Syrianska FC (Syriac/Aramean identity). Also, the Swedish authorities grant rights to minorities to broadcast international TV-channels, in this case Suryoyo Sat and Suroyo TV, from Swedish territory.

The Syriac Federation of Sweden (Swedish: Syrianska Riksförbundet i Sverige, SRF) was founded in 1978 and works to sustain the Aramean (Syriac) identity and community. It is the umbrella organization of 30 Aramaic associations.[10] There is also a youth organization, the Syriac-Aramean Youth Association (Swedish: Syrianska-Arameiska Ungdomsförbundet, SAUF).[11]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ Sargon Donabed (1 February 2015). Reforging a Forgotten History: Iraq and the Assyrians in the Twentieth Century. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 18–. ISBN 978-0-7486-8605-6. 
  2. ^ Swedish Minister for Development Co-operation, Migration and Asylum Policy, Migration 2002, June 2002 Archived September 26, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b c Wozniak 2015.
  4. ^ Prakash Shah; Marie-Claire Foblets (15 April 2016). Family, Religion and Law: Cultural Encounters in Europe. Routledge. p. 183. ISBN 978-1-317-13648-4. Syriac Orthodox 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Wozniak.
  6. ^ "Foreign citizens by country of citizenship, sex and year". Statistics Sweden. Retrieved 15 November 2017. 
  7. ^ Tore Wizelius; Lars-Sune Hansson; Sweden. Referensgruppen för folkrörelsefrågor; Sweden. Statens invandrarverk (1984). Föreningar bland invandrare och minoriteter i Sverige. Statens invandrarverk. p. 53. 
  8. ^ Dan Lundberg, Christians from the Middle East[year needed][page needed]
  9. ^ Riksdagens protokoll. Kungl. Boktr. 2001. assyrier/syrianer 
  10. ^ "Syriac Federation of Sweden (SRF)". World Council of Arameans [Syriacs]. 
  11. ^ "Syrianska-Arameiska Ungdomsförbundet". Syrianska-Arameiska Ungdomsförbundet. 
  12. ^ ""Baylan började hos mig när han var sju år"". SVD. 
  13. ^ "Syrianske stjärnan Abgar Barsom tackar Syrianska folket". ; Grimlund, Lars (2004). "Artisten Barsom vill vara perfekt". DN. 
  14. ^ "Nya stater skapar nya förtryck och problem". Expressen. 
  15. ^ "Zweedse Assyriër in Twente" [Swedish-Assyrian in Twente]. De Pers (in Dutch). 9 March 2007. Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  16. ^ Max Wiman (2011). "Ur ilskan växte årets stora succé". 
  17. ^ "Jimmy Durmaz ska underlätta flytt - kan skaffa turkiskt pass". Fotbolltransfers. 
  18. ^ "David Durmaz om mötet med sin nya klubb". Svenska fans. 
  19. ^ "Farsan Fares född till filmstjärna". DN. 
  20. ^ "yilmazkerimo". socialdemokraterna. 
  21. ^ "AIK stoppade Gabriel Özkan". Svartgul. 
  22. ^ "Sleyman". SVD. 
  23. ^ "Voormalig FC Twente-speler Touma keert terug naar jeugdliefde". voetbalzone. ; "Touma kan ersätta Porokara". 
  24. ^ "UFC-fightern: "Bältet är mitt mål"". SVT. 
  25. ^ "Ufc fighter David Teymur from Sweden on TV". Instagram. 
  26. ^ "Kolla in Stephan" (PDF). 2010-12-05. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-09-28. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Svenska kommunförbundet (1982). Assyrier/syrianer: tipskatalog : några fakta om gruppen och några exempel från kommunal verksamhet. Kommunförb. 
  • Knutsson, Bengt (1982). Assur eller Aram: språklig, religiös och nationell identifikation hos Sveriges assyrier och syrianer. Statens invandrarverk (SIV).
  • Klich, I., and Ingvar Svanberg. "Assyrier/syrianer" i." Det mångkulturella Sverige (1988).
  • Yalcin, Zeki. "Svenskar och assyrier/syrianer kring sekelskiftet 1900." Multiethnica. Meddelande från Centrum för multietnisk forskning, Uppsala universitet 29 (2003): 24-28.
  • Björklund, Ulf. North to another country: the formation of a Suryoyo community in Sweden. Vol. 9. Dept. of Social Anthropology, University of Stockholm, 1981.
  • Atman, Sabri. Assyrier-Syrianer. Mesopotamien, 1996.
  • Barsom, Gabriella. "En studie om assyriska/syrianska ungdomars språkbruk och språkidentiteter." (2006).
  • Berntson, Martin. "Assyrier eller syrianer? Om fotboll, identitet och kyrkohistoria." rapport nr.: Humanistdag-boken 16 (2003).
  • Carl Rommel (May 2, 2010). "Assyrians or Syriacs? Middle Eastern Identity Formation through Football in Sweden". MEI. 
  • G. Gunner, ”Assyrier/syrianer - en orientering,” in G. Gunner and S. Halvardson, eds., Jag behöver rötter och vingar: om assyrisk/syriansk identitet i Sverige (Skellefteå: Artos & Norma bokförlag, 2005).
  • U. Björklund, North to Another Country: the Formation of a Suryoyo community in Sweden (Stockholm: Department of Social Anthropology, University of Stockholm, 1981), p. 18f and Z. Yalcin, “Folkmord och identitet: Assyrier/syrianer och folkmordet under första världskriget,” in Gunner, G. and S. Halvardson, eds., Jag behöver rötter och vingar: om assyrisk/syriansk identitet i Sverige (Skellefteå: Artos & Norma bokförlag, 2005).
  • Wozniak, Marta (2015). "From religious to ethno-religious: Identity change among Assyrians/Syriacs in Sweden" (PDF). Joint Sessions of Workshops organised by the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR). ECPR. 

External links[edit]