Not Arabs, but Hellenes: Who are the Roum of the Levant?The Roum or ‘Rum’ of the Levant are an ethno-cultural minority made up of the descendants of former Koine-Greek speaking Christians. This fragmented “Roum Nation” is most notably made up of the Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic communities of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and the Hatay province of Southern Turkey. Their name derives from the Greek word Ρωμιοί, meaning Romans; and refers to their Eastern Roman or ‘Byzantine’ heritage. Therefore, ‘Rum’, literally means ‘Eastern Roman’ or ‘Asian Greek’.
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To this day, inside Turkish society, ‘Rum’ is still used to refer to Turkish Citizens of Greek ethnicity. A fact, which is best attested by the self-identification and Turkish identification of the Pontian Greek dialect, which is still spoken on the Black Sea coast by Pontian Muslims. Known to Greeks as Pontiaka, Muslim speakers refer to the language as simply Romeyka or Rumca in Turkish.
The indigenous Rum population of Southern Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and the rest of the Holy land, thus make up the last remaining remanence of the ancient Seleucid Greek and Byzantine Greek populations of the region.