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April 02, 2012

Mrs. Bashar al-Assad: Fashion Media Spikes Heel

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“This is the 21st century. Where in the world could this happen? As a mother and a human being, we need to make sure that these atrocities stop.”

So said Asma Assad, wife of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, and until recently a darling of fashion magazines and tabloid newspapers.

It was not, however, her husband’s suppression of the past year’s anti-regime protests and guerrilla attacks in Syria that the 36-year-old Mrs. Assad decried. It was Israel’s December, 2008 – January 2009 battle against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. “Operation Cast Lead,” she told Cable News Network (CNN) at the time, was “barbaric.”

The former Asma Akhras, daughter of a Syrian family who lived in a comfortable suburb of the British capital, graduated from King’s College London with a degree in computer science and diploma in French literature, Associated Press reported (“Syria’s first lady no longer idolized; British-born mother of three now denounced as part of brutal regime,” Washington Times, March 28).

According to the United Nations’, Bashar al-Assad’s forces have killed about 9,000 people, the large majority non-combatants. “They’ve gone for the children – for whatever purposes – in large numbers. Hundreds detained and tortured,” said Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (“U.N. chief urges Assad to stem continuing violence; Fighting reported across Syria despite regime’s acceptance of peace plan,” Washington Post, March 29).

In “Operation Cast Lead,” Israel’s response to thousands of Palestinian mortar and rocket attacks, approximately
1,200
Gazans were killed and the majority appeared to be gunmen from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups (“Hamas’ Revelation Undermines Key Conclusion of Goldstone Report,” CAMERA, Nov. 19, 2010).

Until the start of Syria’s “Arab spring” upheaval, Mrs. Assad captivated the French fashion magazine Elle, which in 2008 named her the world’s most stylish woman. In 2009, The Sun, Britain’s largest tabloid, called her the “sexy Brit … bringing Syria in from the cold.” And just before anti-regime protests erupted across the country last year, Vogue cited her charity work, “killer IQ” and penchant for going incognito to hear from the populace.

No matter that her husband, like his father Hafez al-Assad before him, ran Syria and Lebanon Mafia-style, car-bombing when not simply “disappearing” opponents from journalists to prime ministers, allying with Iran and collaborating with anti-American insurgents crossing the Syrian border into Iraq.

Apparently, countless reports – and surreptitously transmitted images – of slaughter by the regime now have rendered Mrs. Assad’s good looks, expensive tastes and fluent English irrelevant. Vogue reportedly deleted the Asma Assad puff-piece from its Web site. A lesson not only for readers of fashion magazines and tabloids, but also those of the “quality press” when fawning features from Arab and other dictatorship turn up.

Posted by ER at April 2, 2012 05:46 PM

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