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Why playing for pity in the face of Islamic State’s atrocities is counter-productive

In the Syrian town of Salamiyah the Ismailis are suffering—but are determined to keep control of their story

By Faisal Devji  

It often seems as if the extraordinary pluralism of Middle Eastern societies, religious as much as ethnic, tends to be brought to the world’s attention only once it has been destroyed. The civil war in Syria, for example, has made communities like the Yazidis, Alawites, Druze, Assyrians and Kurds newly familiar to a global audience. The sudden prominence of their desperate plight serves only to confirm the stereotype it should dispel—that of a monotonously Islamic society. Because they have been rendered into mere victims, such groups tend to be written…

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