February 2, 2023

The Endangered Assyrians and the Language of Jesus Seek International Support

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by Uzay Bulut, Research Fellow

The Assyrian people, who suffered from many crimes including a genocide in their ancestral lands in the Middle East, won a significant victory in the United States regarding their linguistic rights.

Beginning with the 2023-24 school year, Niles North High School and Niles West High School in Illinois will add Assyrian as an accredited option to fulfill the “World Language” requirements for graduation. Also, in November of last year, Assyrian was recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education as an accredited World Language, paving the way for the historic vote of the Niles Township District 219 Board of Education.

Thousands of Assyrians reside in Illinois. Assyrian language courses are also taught at some schools in Canada, Europe and Australia.

Sadly, the Assyrian/neo-Aramaic language is still not officially recognized in Turkey, where Assyrians/Syriacs have lived for millennia. Assyrians in Iraq, Iran and Syria also face severe challenges to their right to education in their mother tongue.