The Mardinite Community in Lebanon: Migration of Mardin’s People

ORSAM published a comprehensive report titled “The Forgotten Turks: Turkmens of Lebanon” in 2009. This report had undertaken an elaborate study aimed at uncovering the Turks living in Lebanon. In the following six years, we have witnessed the developing of relations between Turkey and the Turkmens in Lebanon. Meanwhile, we have seen that there are more Turkmen settlements in Lebanon and felt the need to update the report. With the support of the Republic of Turkey, Presidency of Turks Abroad and Related Communities, we have conducted a field research in order to update the report and republished it in June 2015 under the title, “Turkey-Lebanon Friendship Bridge: The Turkish Presence and the Ottoman Heritage in Lebanon.” This report has also covered the communities in Lebanon such as the Mardinite community with their historic bonds with Turkey, the Cretan Turks, the families from Anatolia and the Circassians.

These reports have shown that a comprehensive study is required for each of these individual communities. It has led to an undertaking for a separate report about the Mardinite community in Lebanon. Residing majorly in Beirut and Baqa’a, the Mardinite community in Lebanon has originated from the people who migrated from the south east of Turkey for economic reasons. They maintain close relations with Turkey and some of them even preserve their Turkish citizenship. This report has determined that approximately 30,000 Mardinite people live in Lebanon of which approximately 15,000 have Turkish citizenship. Authored by Selcan Özdemirci, an assistant researcher in the Middle East Institute of the University of Sakarya, this report deals in detail with a wide array of issues such as the history of the Mardinite community in Lebanon, their identity perceptions, their reasons for migration to Lebanon, their main problems and solution proposals to these problems. We hope to cover a significant gap with this comprehensive study.

First and foremost, we would like to express our gratitude to Mr. Çağatay Erciyes, Turkey’s Ambassador to Beirut. Continuing on the efforts of his predecessors, Mr. Erciyes attaches great importance to academic studies about the Turks in Lebanon. Due to his encouragements for writing this report and laborious efforts during the field research, he deserves to be mentioned as one of the people who labored the most for this report. Secondly, we thank Selcan Özdemirci for the field research that she conducted in Lebanon and this elaborate report. In addition, we wish to express our gratitude to Gülşen Sağlam, a Mardinite from the Yeni Nesil Association who provided a tremendous aid to the field team by arranging the required interviews. Lastly, we extend our sincere thanks to the entire Mardinite community and their representatives who have dedicated their precious time and shared their valuable information with us. We wish everyone a good read.