Mr and Mrs Assad fight to salvage image

2012-04-18 18:00

kalahari.com

  • Syria
    Options and Implications for Lebanon and the Region Now R196.00
    buy now

Beirut - President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma were shown on Syrian state TV packing food aid, an apparent effort to burnish the image of a first couple derided for ordering luxury goods on the Internet while their country burns.

State television broadcast pictures on Wednesday of the Assads receiving a rapturous welcome at al-Fahya stadium in Damascus.

They joined hundreds of volunteers boxing cartons full of flour, sugar, cooking oil and pasta for victims of fighting in Homs, where the president's forces are crushing an uprising.

The Assads have long worked to manage their image, but it backfired a year ago when a glamorous photo shoot and gushing profile of Asma, 36, appeared in Vogue magazine just as her husband launched a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

Those images are now part of a YouTube campaign led by the wives of UN ambassadors from Britain and Germany, which alternates stylish shots of Asma with gruesome pictures of dead and injured Syrian children.

For Wednesday's appearance Asma avoided any hint of glamour, dressing down in a sheer pink sweater over a simple dress with her dark blonde hair soberly braided and pinned up.

Her tall, gangly husband looked relaxed, towering above his admirers in a polo shirt with an identity pass on a ribbon around his neck like other volunteers. The two packed boxes, sealed them with Scotch tape and carried them over to stacks of aid awaiting distribution.

Assad is held responsible by Western and Arab governments for the deaths of over 9 000 Syrians in a crackdown on dissent that began 13 months ago as his autocratic rule was challenged, first by peaceful protesters and now by a rebel army.

He says Syria is under attack by foreign-backed terrorists and that armed gangs have killed over 2 600 soldiers and police. The worst-hit city, Homs, is the ancestral home of Asma, a British-educated former investment banker.

Some women struggle

Despite the uprising, Assad has strong support in parts of Syria, especially among religious minorities like his own Alawite sect. He is opposed by many Sunni Muslims, who make up the majority of Syria's 23 million people.

Asma's lavish lifestyle has made her a target for her husband's opponents. Sheila Lyall Grant and Huberta Voss-Whittig, wives of the British and German ambassadors to the United Nations, said the aim of their YouTube video was to persuade Asma to act to stop her husband.

"Some women are for style and some women care for their people. Some women struggle for their image and some women struggle for survival," says the video, billed as a letter to Asma. 

Asma al-Assad once cultivated the image of a serious-minded woman inspired by Western values. But she appears to have kept up a life of luxury shopping during the uprising against the four-decade rule of the Assad family.

E-mails exchanged with her husband, obtained by Britain's Guardian newspaper and seen by Reuters, showed her spending tens of thousands of pounds on jewels, fancy furniture, and a Venetian glass vase from Harrods.

"I am the real dictator, he has no choice," she commented about her husband in one of the e-mails attributed to her.

The European Union has banned Asma from travelling there or shopping from European companies.

Read more on:    asma assad  |  syria  |  syria conflict  |  uprisings
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
17 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

An uncomfortable election

The latter few weeks of election 2014, have seen South Africans reeling from an assault on their comfort zone when it comes to voting, writes Daniel Silke

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Note 16GB

GALAXY Note combines the market's largest HD Super AMOLED display,...

From R3899.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.