This article was printed in the internet edition of the Turkish newspaper Zaman on August 8, 2001 about an incident that happened 2-300 kilometers northeast of Antakya:

Five dead as adults join children’s fight in Turkey’s southeast

08 August 2011, Monday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,

“Five people died and 12 others were injured when a fistfight among a group of children grew larger after their families got involved on Monday in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa.

Reports said children from the Şahin and Pesen families, which reportedly have a long-standing dispute, in the Suruç district got into a fistfight in the morning. While the fight seemed to have ended, some members of the Pesen family went to the home of the Şahin family and reportedly insulted them.

Following this, members of the Şahin family took out weapons and opened fire on them, killing five people from the Pesen family.

Reports said three of the victims are women. The clash continued for hours and another 12 people were injured. Riot police were sent to the area to end the clash.

Strict security measures were taken at Suruç State Hospital, where the injured individuals were taken, to prevent any further violence. An investigation into the incident has also been launched.”

The story is sad but trivial. Incidents like the one described are not unusual along the frontier between Turkey and Syria. What makes the story unusual is that it puts back on the map a city that the world forgot centuries ago: the city of Serug.

In the Bible book of Genesis we read in chapter 11 verses 22 – 26 we read:

“And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor: And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah: And Nahor lived after he begat Terah an hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters. And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.” (King James Version)

Thus Serug was the great-grandfather of the patriarch Abraham and he had a city called by his name.

This was not unusual. Also Abraham’s brother Haran had a city with his name, and also this city still exists at its location about 40 kilometres south of the big city of Urfa (or Şanlıurfa).

The account in the book of Genesis tells us how Abraham’s grandson Jacob later settled with his relative Laban in Haran (Harran) where he worked as a shepherd. Eventually he had to run away because of serious differences with Laban about wages. According to Genesis Laban only refrained from doing Jacob harm after divine intervention.

The newspaper story from Suruç (Serug) indicates that not everything in that area has changed since the time of the patriarchs nearly four thousand years ago.

Jacob probably acted wisely by avoiding a confrontation.

About Antiochene

Writer and translatorliving in Antioch on the Orontes (Antakya, Turkey) and Copenhagen.
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