Nov. 21, 2012
In a country clouded by conflict, where neighbors and families are now divided by sectarian hatred, this mountaintop town renowned for its spiritual healing qualities and restorative air is an oasis of tolerance. Residents of the ancient and mainly Christian town — one of the last places where Western Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ, is still spoken — vowed at the beginning of the Syrian conflict 20 months ago not to succumb to sectarianism and be dragged into the chaos.
Their determination was all the more remarkable given the town’s location, on the main road from the battered city of Homs to the increasingly embattled capital, Damascus. But it reflects a bitter history.