An Assyrian Christian family were attacked in a village in Mardin province, south-eastern Turkey, shortly after a church service on Sunday 5 June.

The service in Mor Gevargis Church, Brahîmîye village, was the first held in the building in almost 100 years. The renovation of the church was started in 2015 by the Mardin Assyrian Ancient Foundation.

After the service the Yilmaz family – the only Assyrian family who live in the village – were attacked at their home by a group of 50 Muslims. The family were entertaining visiting clergy officiating at the service at the time.

A service was held in Mor Gevargis Church, Brahîmîye village for the first time in nearly a century [Image credit: Süryaniler]

The attackers were led by a Muslim family with whom the Yilmaz family have had a long-standing dispute over land.

The mob attacked the home with stones, sticks and other weapons. They then set fire to wheat being grown on lands belonging to the Yilmaz family. None of the family were injured, and the fire was eventually extinguished after witnesses alerted the police.

Some members of the Muslim family were arrested in connection with the incident.  

“They threatened us,” said Cengiz Yilmaz, “saying that they would not let us live in the village … But we are not afraid. We will continue to stay here.” He accused the attackers of specifically choosing the day of the church ceremony to re-open the land dispute.

The tiny remnant Christian community in Turkey, which includes a small number of converts from Islam, still bears the trauma of the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek genocides of the early twentieth century, in which at least 3.75 million believers were killed by Ottoman Turks.

In August 2021 an Assyrian village in northern Syria was bombed by the Turkish air force in a campaign against Kurdish militants.

Give thanks for the re-opening of the historic church in Brahîmîye. Pray for the safety of the Yilmaz family and for a fair resolution to the land dispute. Ask for the protection and spiritual strength of the Christian minority in Turkey and Syria in the face of attacks from the majority population.

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This article originally appeared on Barnabas Fund/News