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Northern Iraq - Berwari region


This is the story of oriental folk
known by different names as
Arameans Assyrians Chaldeans
All Christians
One people

Swept away from home
between Euphrates and Tigris
by wild and violent rapids
in the stream of history

Bowing and swaying
in the foreign winds
of exodus and diaspora

Yet persisting and not breaking
and bringing in their eyes
the light of the ancient East
once more to the modern West 


The Assyrian-Chaldean Community Mechelen is a large group of immigrants in the Flemish town of Mechelen, Belgium. This community counts 300 families or about 2000 persons. They are mainly refugees from the villages Hassana and Herbul in South East Turkey, who have settled down in Mechelen since 1980. They usually call themselves Chaldean or Assyrian Christians, Assyrian referring here to the link with the ancient Assyrians from Mesopotamia between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. These oriental Christians follow the Assyrian Church of the East, the Chaldean Church and the Syrian-Orthodox Church. A smaller group among them has been converted to Protestantism. Just for the sake of convenience we mostly use the denomination Assyrians and Assyrian Christians. With our excuses to the Chaldean and Syrian-Orthodox Christians, who often reject the ethnic indication Assyrian and prefer to call themselves Chaldeans and Arameans.

The Assyrian-Chaldean Christians in Mechelen speak a modern form of Aramaic, the language of Christ. They consider themselves the guardians of pure and original eastern Christianity and they connect this creed with ancient cultural values from their lost homeland. Where do they belong? One could say: everywhere on the Blue Planet. Thanks to their contacts with relatives and other Assyrian-Chaldean Christians all over the world, they are in their own particular way cosmopolitans, nomadic world citizens in search of the Promised Land somewhere between exodus and diaspora.

Shlama webmagazine wants to make the Assyrian-Chaldean Community Mechelen better known in Flanders, in Belgium and elsewhere. This explains the combination of Dutch and English on the website. The editorial office is located at the intercultural centre CIMIC, connected with KHM or Catholic College Mechelen. Webmasters of Shlama are writer-lecturer August Thiry and photographer Geert Segers. They co-ordinate the site in close collaboration with a group of young and motivated local Assyrian-Chaldeans.

The sections Culture & Tradition, Gallery and Events on the site mainly collect articles and visual material about specific topics. In these sections various local activities, public meetings, specific customs and ceremonies of the Assyrian-Chaldean Community Mechelen are represented, together with portraits of prominent individuals from all the segments of the community. The sections Mechelen on the Tigris, Homeland and Diaspora focus on broader cultural and historical topics. Here you can find photo reports, travelogues and in depth coverage about the last Assyrian-Chaldean and Syrian-Orthodox Christians in their native regions in the Middle East and also about Assyrian-Chaldeans and Syrian-Orthodox Christians in their world-wide diaspora. Shlama to all of them!