We post a new essay by Paul Merkley.. We present this essay reprinted by permission of Paul and from The Bayview Review. See the links at the end for direct access to the rest of Paul’s work.
There are Assyrians and there are Assyrians
Recently the western press has been bemoaning the devastation by ISIS in Iraq and Syria of artifacts and monuments from the Neo-Assyrian Empire (See my essay, “A Meeting of Kindred Spirits In Iraq,” www.thebayviewreview.com, May 1, 2015.)
But the proper name “Assyrian” has been appearing with even greater frequency in quite another context and with quite a different meaning. Among such items is one originating with Newsweek, and distributed by AINA (ASSYRIAN International News agency(aina.org/news): “Fleeing ISIS Into Exile, Assyrian Christians Sing the Oldest Music on Earth, ” April 16, 2015.) It describes the exodus in panic of hundreds of thousands of Christians from Iraq and Syria following the capture by ISIS of Mosul and other major centres since January of this year.
A few days after capturing Mosul … ISIS issued its infamous decree: convert to Islam, pay a tax on unbelievers or die…. [The fleeing Christians] leave behind the bodies of brothers and fathers, and the shelled–out ruins of their shops and houses. They also leave behind much of what it meant to be a Syriac Christian. The ancient cities of Nimrud and Nineveh that they visited proudly to show their children the glories of the Assyrian empire from which they claim descent [emphasis added] — soon these will be bulldozed by ISIS. They leave behind the treasures of Assyria in the Mosul museum — ISIS will loot the smaller antiquities for the black market and smash the statues too big to sell.… From the steeple flies the black flag. In a few months, it will be destroyed.