Antagonism between the various religious communities in 19th century Damascus was exacerbated by the growing gap between the rich and the poor and competition between Christian and Muslim handloom textile weavers. The Christian weavers enjoyed greater prosperity since they began to use imported English cotton yarns rather than local hand-spun thread, whereas Muslim weavers had limited access to imported yarn. In 1859 there were 3436 silk looms owned by Christians. Nearly all of these were destroyed in riots that broke out in Damascus on 9 July 1860. Several thousands Christians were killed. Throughout greater Syria, Muslims had grievances against Christians connected to European political and economic activity.