Why Murad Cheqqe corrupted
the poems of Naum Faiq?
Campaign to separate the Syrian Orthodox Church
from its Assyrian Heritage
By Augin Kurt journalist
Feb. 9, 2011
Murad Cheqqe published in 1936 the book "Naum Faiq - zikra wa Takhlid" in memory of our great national hero complete with his poems and biography. But now that the original, Naum Faiqs own handwritings, has been presented, it appears that some paragraphs in which he calls himself or his nation Assyrian were removed. We do not know what motive Murad Cheqqe had, but Bishop Yuhanon Dolabani confirms in his memoirs that Cheqqe dismissed Faiqs activism in the Assyrian struggle for freedom, writes journalist Augin Kurt who investigated the matter further.
As we know, the Assyrian associations and federations each year in early February celebrate the man who devoted his life to the Assyrian freedom struggle, to remember Naum Faiqs death February 5, 1930.He counts as a prominent figure in modern Assyrian awakening to break the sectarian divisions and unite our divided nation.
Four years ago I spent an entire week devoted to proofread Naum Faiqs journal Bethnahrin, of which some numbers had been digitazed and written in a Word document.Before that, I occasionally read poems and articles by Naum Faiq. Now, I read many of his articles, poems and other things that filled the pages of the newspaper which he started publishing at the height of First World War from his exile in the United States.
I read the magazine with such a feeling that it felt as if I mentally lived with Naum Faiq all week. In my mind I felt that I was there under the conditions that he wrote his texts and took part of his everyday wear.The more I read the more I was so moved by his indomitable and upright posture towards our sectarian differences, his outspoken comments on various topics and for different groups of Assyrians.Just a little thing such as complaining about the inadequacies of Nestorian Assyrians who did not do the right thing in paying journal subscriptions, was to put a finger on a relationship that we know today.
I also took some of his reasoning on the name issue and his proposal on how our people should be called in English. A few weeks later, I wrote an article in Hujada on our current name conflict and took Naum Faiqs proposal that the name Assyrian was synonymous with Suryoye. I was impressed by his steadfast defense of our ancient language, for example, he lectured bishop (then monk) Yuhanon Dolabani and other editors of the magazine al-Hikmat to stop the priority of Arabic at the expense of our own language. The Arabic language had devoured our ancient language to death, as Faiqs effect. Who among us can argue against that fact that only gotten worse since then?
In short, I experienced Naum Faiq as a modern journalist and patriot who would rather fit in the twenty-first century than a hundred years earlier.In that week with Naum Faiq, I realized what an amazing person he was. He always put national interest before his own interests and raised in this way above the sectarian differences, which still plagues our nation.
Then I read Bishop Yuhanon Dolabanis memoirs and settled on a piece where Dolabani are in the Assyrian St. Mark''s Monastery in Jerusalem, when news of Naum Faiqs death reached him in the 1930s. He says that they held a memorial service in the church for the deceased Faiq on February 16, where the bishop Kyrillos after the fair made a speech and regretted his death. After the bishop, also Murad Cheqqe, who was a teacher and editor of the magazine al-Hikmat, held a commemorative speech on Naum Faiq, and praised him (perhaps dutifully).But at the end of the speech, he destroyed everything, writes Dolabani, when Cheqqe became deeply critical of Naum Faiqs activism in the Assyrian freedom struggle. Between the lines Dolabani questioned this criticism and thought it was an unjust legacy of Naum Faiq, which he had deep respect for.
Murad Fuad Cheqqe was born in Mardin and died 1958. He was the son of the famous teacher Hanna Sirri Cheqqe and brother of author Mikhael Cheqqe. Murad wrote, in addition to the book Naum Faiq - zikr wa Takhlid, also a large number of articles and literary studies in the journal al-Hikmat, which he published in Jerusalem 1927-30, together with the monk Dolabani. (Previously, the same magazine published in Zafaran monastery in Mardin 1913-14 with his brother Mikhael as editor). Murad also gave a book of orientalist Jean-Baptiste Chabot (1860-1947) titled The Aramaic Language and Its Branches. He also published a book of Yehia bone Adi.
In 1936, Murad Cheqqe published the book Naum Faiq - zikr wa Takhlid (Naum Faiq - memory and the perpetuation).It contained Naum Faiqs poetry and biography. For a long time it has been a key source for articles and information about Naum Faiq for most who have written about his life and works. But recently, the original documents with Faiqs own handwriting arrived, showing that the poems in that book is flawed and edited. Some pieces in which he calls himself or his people Assyrians are not reproduced (see images at the Swedish version). Although the book says, the word Ashuriin some quarters, it seems beyond doubt that a systematic intervention have been made to hide Faiqs own words about the Assyrian identity.
The first person who made us aware of this relationship was the artist and author Hanna Hajjar, who on his website tell us of the findings he did after his father Yakoub’s death in 2005.Yakoub Hajjar was born in Urhoy 1923 but shortly thereafter was his family forced to emigrate to Aleppo or Beirut, like other Assyrians in the town.Yakoub studied as a child at the Assyrian school for orphans in Beirut, TMS.His old school books show that Naum Faiqs poems that children had been taught and written down by Ottoman Turkish, was more like the original poems.In Hajjars booklet printing at the pages 6-7, for example, writes Naum Faiq Ben Aşuriyim (I''m Assyrian).On pages 1-3 of the booklet he urges his nation to wake up with words Uyan Aşur Uyan. None of these pieces are included in Murad Cheqqes rendering of the poems.
With this procedure has Murad Cheqqe made him self guilty of a violation of the author and can be placed among the stories vision revisionists in our people, whether his motive was political or not. Maybe he used the same argument as many do today when they mistakenly confuse the word Assyrian with the Nestorian, i.e members of the Assyrian church of the East.But that does not absolve him responsibility for wrongful interference with the original.
Most currently engaged in document fraud makes it in its pursuit of an Aramaic identity as a counterweight to the Assyrian, which has a more political tone.In the Assyrian nation''s name, we have had both military forces and claims on our own territory. But I have never heard of that same thing has happened in any Aramaic name. For this reason the Assyrian identity is troublesome to the various regimes in the Middle East, both on Murad Cheqqes time and today.
It is therefore tempting to believe that Murad Cheqqe simply wanted to be politically correct, not offend those in power and took away the pieces that show that Naum Faiq shows a clear Assyrian identity. We should also remember that the difficult name conflict that we suffer from today, did not exist for Naum Faiq, Bishop Yuhanon Dolabani and other pioneers of the modern Assyrian Movement.They accepted all of our historical names and used them with pride, but they saw that the Assyrian name was the one who had the greatest potential to unite our nation''s various sectarian elements. The Assyrian name was even more famous in the world with a clear political identity of its bearer. If Naum Faiq had used the term The Suryani Nation, no one in the U.S or other Western world would understood what he meant.
If we are to make a link to the current situation, we can see that the same political correctness, which could be in the case Cheqqe, we see even today in the middle of the Swedish democracy among those who oppose the Assyrian movement. They do not want to offend the countries from where our people come and run immediately to the various embassies, as a political manifestation has been held, to demonstrate their loyalty to the country.Or they gather on another place of when the Assyrians gather in the square of Sergel in Stockholm to commemorate the 95 anniversary of Seyfo along with Armenians and Greeks.
Augin Kurt journalist
This documentcontainsonlyapartofthe journalBethnahrin.Morecopieshavebeen digitizedandtranslatedever since.It is hopedthatall of themwillbe publishedinabookin the nearfuture.Also otherjournalswhereNaumFaiq wereinvolved in,such asKawkab,Huyodoand Intibah.Everyoneof these in the formofabook.  Abrohom Nuro: My Tour, Pionner Publications and Mantoura Presses, Beirut 1967
Naum Faiq used initsTurkishoriginalthathewrotewithAssyriancharactersoftenthe term Athuri,inversionswiththeArabic alphabetis written asAshuriintoday''sTurkishAsuri.
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