One of the most striking characteristics of the Syriac churches today is a strong sense of urgency about their identity and long-term survival. Under pressure from subtle discrimination to downright hostility from radical Islamists in the Middle East and various forms of assimilation in the diaspora, both lay and clerical leaders look for ways to sustain and create a strong common identity. Such a common 'ethnic' identity is usually found in the shared Syriac tradition of language, culture, history and religion, in comparison to which earlier dogmatic, social and political differences are downplayed. Whether such a common identity, provided it successfully includes those who cherish the traditional ties of belief and community, will also be able to form an effective barrier against political and social pressure in the Middle East and assimilation in the diaspora, will primarily depend on how well the Syriac communities in Syria and Iraq are maintained and strengthened.
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