Assyrians in the Netherlands

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Assyrians in the Netherlands
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Neo-Aramaic, Dutch
Syriac Orthodox
Assyrian Church of the East
Traditional dances performed by Assyrians in the Netherlands

The Assyrians in the Netherlands are Dutch citizens of Assyrian descent. They mainly live in the east of the country, in the province of Overijssel, in such cities as Enschede, Hengelo, Rijssen, Almelo and Borne. The main reason that the Assyrians are concentrated there is because it is an industrial area which lies at the border with Germany, where a large German Assyrian population resides. Many Assyrians in the Netherlands have relatives in Germany.


Assyrians in the Netherlands protesting for the recognition of the Assyrian genocide

The first Assyrians came to the Netherlands in the 1970s as a result of fights between the PKK and the Turkish army. Most of them were from the province of Mardin in southeastern Turkey, where the aforementioned conflict took place. In the 1980s, Assyrians from Syria, with almost all of them being from the originally Assyrian city of Qamishli (Syriac: ܒܬ ܙܠܝܢ Bet Zalin), began to emigrate to the Netherlands. The latest group of Assyrians to migrate to the Netherlands are from Iraq, and they have been arriving there since the first Gulf War. The large majority of Turkish and Syrian Assyrians in the Netherlands belong to the Syriac Orthodox Church since they are from the western part of the Assyrian homeland, where the Syriac Orthodox Church is the most prominent.

In the 1980s, as with other immigrants in Europe, a strong feeling of nationalism started to develop among the Assyrians in the Netherlands. This sentiment started to make Assyrians be active in working for projects that helped them preserve their identity. A few projects that started out were Assyrian society building, Assyrians churches and Assyrians language classes, which were being given in Dutch schools to Assyrian children and also on weekends in so-called Bible school classes. They also started camps for Assyrians youth and Assyrian music and dance classes were offered in the community. For adult Assyrians, lectures on society building and lots of social events were organized. Since 1981 there has been a Syriac Orthodox monastery in the village Glane near the German border.

The Assyrians began to organize demonstrations to bring their situation in the Assyrian homeland to the attention of the media and to bring the 20th century Assyrian genocide to the attention of the Dutch government.

Current situation[edit]

The Assyrians have managed to both integrate into Dutch society and maintain their own ethnic identity, as there are a lot of social events organized by Assyrian clubs. Some of the latest projects which Assyrians in the Netherlands have started are: the Seyfo Center, the Assyrian Church Choir, representation of Assyrians in the Dutch government (such as Attiya Gamri), and the foundation of the Assyrian Youth Movement (AJF).

Assyrians in the Netherlands mostly belong to Syriac Orthodox Church, but there is also a small community belonging to the Chaldean Catholic Church and Assyrian Church of the East. The first Assyrians mainly worked in factories or opened restaurants, but today, mostly attend university and work in all sectors of the economy.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]