And even Robert Fisk notices:
The Diab family can never return to Maaloula [Syria]. Not since the Christians of this beautiful and sacred town saw their Muslim neighbours leading the armed Nusrah Islamists to their homes. Georgios remembers how he peered over his balcony and saw Mohamed Diab and Ossama Diab and Yasser Diab and Hossam Diab and Khaled Turkik Qutaiman – all from Maaloula – walking in the street with men whom he said were dressed in Afghan-Pakistani clothes. “One of them had a Kalashnikov rifle in one hand and a sword in the other,” he says, shaking his head in disbelief.
Twenty years ago, identical tragedies destroyed the villages of Bosnia. Now they are being re-enacted in Syria. “We knew our Muslim neighbours all our lives,” Georgios says. He is a Catholic. “Yes, we knew the Diab family were quite radical, but we thought they would never betray us. We ate with them. We are one people.
“A few of the Diab family had left months ago and we guessed they were with the Nusra. But their wives and children were still here. We looked after them. Then, two days before the Nusra attacked, the families suddenly left the town. We didn’t know why. And then our neighbours led our enemies in among us.”
It is a story being repeated all too often over much of the Muslim world of the Middle East and Africa. As Robert Spencer writes (and it was his article that led me to the one by Fisk), “the call to jihad can override all existing loyalties.”
For those of you unfamiliar with Robert Fisk, see this. Fisk has long been an apologist for Muslim violence (even when perpetrated against himself), and so it’s especially puzzling—and potentially interesting—that in his article about Maaloula he seems to have recently abandoned that stance.
I wonder why. Not because I’m so very interested in Robert Fisk, but because I wonder whether this is a real change, and symptomatic of a dawning realization among more people than Fisk himself. Could it be that Muslim violence against Christians has reached a sort of critical mass, where more and more people are unable to deny its spread and the one-sided nature of its provocation?