Berlin, 25 Jan 2009: Some 3,000 people, including the Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Germany, Hanna Aydin, staged a demonstration in front of the Berlin Cathedral on Sunday, Jan. 25, demanding religious freedom for Syriac Orthodox Christians in Turkey. Syriacs are one of Turkey’s oldest communities, descendants of a branch of Middle Eastern Christianity. These Christians, united by a language derived from Aramaic, are split into several Orthodox and Catholic denominations. There were 250,000 Syriacs when Ataturk founded Turkey after World War I from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. Today they number 20,000. Syriacs migrated throughout the 20th century to Europe, fleeing first persecution by the new secular republic, and later to escape violence between Kurdish separatist rebels and the Turkish military in the southeast.