A flattering Vogue profile of Asmaa al-Assad, wife of Syria’s besieged president Bashar al-Assad, has been removed from the magazine’s website, as the government crackdown on dissent rumbles on.
The article, written in February 2011, described her as “glamorous, young, and very chic -- the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies,” but the assessment came to be seen differently in the wake of the unrest roiling Syria.
The profile said the Syrian first lady’s central mission was to “change the mindset” of six million of the country’s citizens aged under 18 and encourage them to engage in what she calls “active citizenship.”
The remarks, however, provoked astonishment given the crackdown on a revolt against the leadership of President Assad, in which more than 9,000 people have died since March 2011, according to U.N. figures.
“It’s about everyone taking shared responsibility in moving this country forward, about empowerment in a civil society.”
“We all have a stake in this country; it will be what we make it,” the Vogue profile quoted the Syrian leader’s wife as saying.
“I like to get out and meet people and do things,” it added.
A series of leaked emails in March this year appeared to show that Syria’s first lady spent tens of thousands of dollars online on jewelry, chandeliers and other expensive goods to be shipped to her while the flashpoint city of Homs was being bombarded.
A petition was launched last week by the wives of the British and German ambassadors to the United Nations, urging the Syrian first lady to “speak out for peace, to ask for a stop to the bloodshed.”
“Make your voice heard! Stop being a bystander. It is your duty to prevent the breakout of civil war as a woman, as a wife and as a mother of young children yourself,” said the petition, which has more than 34,000 signatures.
A spokeswoman for Vogue magazine, contacted by AFP, was not available for comment Thursday on why the profile was no longer available online.