A few years later he was exiled to Damascus and on a day of July 1860 his true character was again tested. The civil war that was raging in Lebanon had reached Damascus and the Christian population found themselves surrounded by the Muslim Druze who arrived brandishing swords and knives determined to slaughter them all.
The French newspaper 'Le Siecle' on 2 August 1869 documented what happened on that day "We were in consternation, all of us quite convinced that our last hour had arrived. In that expectation of death, in those indescribable moments of anguish, Heaven, however, sent us a savior! Abd el-Kader appeared, surrounded by his Algerians, around forty of them. He was on horseback and without arms: his handsome figure calm and imposing made a strange contrast with the noise and disorder that reigned everywhere. For five days and nights he and his band of Algerians neither slept nor rested, battling out in the streets and guiding Christians to his large mansion where they could dwell in safety. By the time they were finished, they had managed to save over 15,000 Christians, the majority of which were the very same European people who had colonized his native land and were in the process of colonizing others. An Arab leader had, with his life, protected and saved the elite of Europe."
When France later bestowed on him its highest honor, the "Legion D'honneur" he said: "The good that we did to the Christians was what we were obliged to do, out of fidelity to Islamic law and out of respect for the rights of humanity. For all creatures are the family of God, and those most beloved of God are those who are most beneficial to his family."