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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Muslim massacre of Christians in Damascus (1860)

From the Banner of Liberty newspaper, Middletown, NY, August 22, 1860. I fixed the obvious OCR typos but some I couldn't quite get.
The Massacre at Damascus. [Correspondence of the London Post.] July 16, 1860. On the llth instant, I forwarded to you, via Smyrna, a telegraphic dispatch giving an outline of the fearful tragedy which has just been witnessed, and which, when the last accounts left the place, was by no means finished, in Damascus. Since then, further details of this outrage have reached Beyrout from various authentic sources.

Damascus is the real capital of Syria, and is the largest city of Asiatic Turkey. It is considered by all Moslems a holy town, as from j departs and to it arrives, every year, the ho; or pilgrim caravan, to and from Mecca. The population of Damascus exceeds o which are Moslems, Christians and Jews.

Ever since the murder of the Christians by the Druses, in Lebanon, commenced, and more particularly since it became every day more and more evident to all men that the Turkish government showed partiality to the Druses, the more disreputable Moslems of Damascus began to be exceedingly insolent to the Christians. These low Moslems are t numerous, a very troublesome, and an exceedingly bigoted race, in all large Oriental towns and are tenfold more so in Damascus than in any place I know in Asia.

Hearing how the Government had everywhere not only sided against their co-religionists, but how it hat everywhere in Lebanon actually helped to be tray, if cot really to murder them, the Christians of Damascus were from the very outse downhearted and frightened, as well they might be, when threatened from day to day that the Moslems would rise and exterminate them.

Matters got worse and worse, the one party becoming daily more frightened, the other hourly more insolent, until at last, on Sunday the 8th InsL, when the Christians came out of their various churches, a mob of Moslem lads were busy in the streets, making crosses in chalk on the ground, and then stamping and spitting on the sacred emblem. But so utterly downhearted were the Christians, that they did not even complain to the authorities ol this wanton insult, On the contrary, all they did was to confine themselves still more strictly within their houses for the rest of the day.

What must then have been their astonishment on the Monday morning, to see these same lads who had made and spat upon the crosses on the previous day, sweeping the streets of the Christian quarter in chains, by order of the Turkish head of police. They at once supposed that this order must have been given for the very purpose of exciting a RIOT, and they were not mistaken.

At two PM three hundred of the lowest Moslems of Damascus, rushed, armed, into the Christian quarter, crying Slay the dogs of Christianity and immediately the work of plunder, burning and murder commenced. Achmet Pacha, Governor General and Commander in Chief of the field marshal in the Sultan's was at once informed of what had taken place. But, although he had at his disposal some eight hundred regular troops, and several field pieces, not a man nor a gun did he move. He never showed himself in the streets, nor took any steps whatever to stop the massacre, de- old story of Haabeyia, Kasheyia, Deir-el-Kamar and he had not troops enough to do any good.

The Russian Consulate was almost the first house attacked, and all those Christians who did not take refuge with the famous Algerfne chief, Abd-el- Kader (who has behaved most nobly throughout the ...) were murdered at once. But, although the affair might have been stopped the greatest ease, before dark on the Monday, wier that hour the mob increased in numbers every minute.

Late in the evening about 300 soldiers were sent to put a stop to the outrage, but very shortly joined in the plundering; such as did not do BO actually used their arms to massacre the Christians. The whole Christian includes some of the finest palaces to be found in the soon one moss of flames; for this there is the positive authority of a European eye witness, who was hiding in the neighborhood all that fearful the Christians tried to escape from the flames, they were thrust back on the burning piles by the bayonets of the Turkish regular troops. However, when we recollect that one of the military chiefs who commanded in Damascus was Osman Beg, the miscreant who but three-weeks previously had delivered up at Hasbeiya up- wards of fifteen hundred Christians to be massacred by the Druses, ail wonder at the conduct of the military ceases at once.

When our last advices from Damascus left that place, the whole Christian quarter had been utterly destroyed. Four thousand Christians bad taken refuge in the house of Abd-el- Kader, who defended them against all comers. Three thousand had taken refuge in the castle under the Pacha, and several hundred in the English consulate, which as situated in the Moslem quarter of the been respected. two thousand Christians, it was calculated, had been murdered, all in cold blood, and the estimated of valuables, was, '00 sterling.

From Aleppo the news is bad. They had not heard of the Damascus massacre, but fully expected, almost every hour, the MOSLEMs of the town to rise on the Christians. Captain Paynter, of her Majesty's ship Exmouth, senior naval officer here, has despatched her Majesty's ship Mohawk to Latakia and Alexandretta, so as to pick up and save fugitives from MOSLEM fanaticism.

In Beyrout the panic among the native Christians has been something fearful yesterday and today. They are embarking by hundreds in the different merchant steamers to Alexandretta, Alexandria, Corfu, Malta, and even for England. Nearly all the French and English merchants are sending away their families to Europe. All trade is stopped for the present. Syria has had a blow from which she will not recover for sixty years.

In Alexandria, all the refugees that have fled there lave been very handsomely treated by Said Pacha, who'gives food to the poorest, money to many, houses to all. In Beyrout, the English and Americans have formed a fund to relieve the poor, who have fled to this place in thousands; the French have done the same; the Sisters of Charity have relieved hundreds every day with food; the French, English, Russian, Austrian and Prussian consuls (to say nothing of the American missionaries who daily feed three hundred) give bread, cooked meat, rice, clothes, to several hundreds of these poor, starved, burnt out peasants.
Adb al-Qadir is credited with saving some 12,000 people in this incident, and was rewarded by France for his acts.

A total of 7,000-11,000 Christians were massacred in total during 1860 in Syria.