JEDDAH: British MPs are calling for the British-born Syrian First Lady, Asma Assad, to be stripped of her British citizenship following the information of her involvement in the Syrian regime’s propaganda.
“The time has come where we go after (President) Assad in every which way, including people like Mrs. Assad, who is very much part of the propaganda machine that is committing war crimes,” said Nadhim Zahawi, a Conservative MP who sits on the Commons foreign affairs committee.
“The First Lady of Syria has acted, not as a private citizen, but as a spokesperson for the Syrian presidency,” Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Tom Brake said in a statement.
“This is a barbarous regime, yet Asma Assad has continued to use her international profile to defend it, even after the chemical weapons atrocity.”
Some official social media accounts under Asma Assad’s name are used to promote her husband, praise the Syrian regime and attack the West for spreading “lies.”
Bashar Assad’s wife, 41, is active on several social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook and Telegram with a total of more than 500,000 followers.
Assad, whose posts mostly revolve around pictures of her with children and elderly Syrian women, shared on her Instagram account last week a statement slamming the American airstrikes on Syrian airbase and questioning the authenticity of the Syrian chemical gas attack, which targeted the town of Idlib on the April 4.
“The presidency of the Syrian Arab Republic affirms that what America has done is an irresponsible act that only reflects a short-sightedness, a narrow horizon, a political and military blindness to reality and a naive pursuit of a frenzied false propaganda campaign,” Assad’s Instagram post reads.
On April 4, when Khan Sheikhun was hit with chemical weapons, Assad’s Facebook page shared a picture of Syria’s First Lady with a smile on her relaxed face with a caption: “Because the reports on our page are increasing, and because our posts disturb them, we are posting and will continue posting. Their reports are small compared to the number of our fans.”
Assad, who is a former JP Morgan banker, is a dual Syrian-British citizen.
Social media users reacted to the MP proposal differently – some were strongly against the action, some opposed the MP’s step, while others saw no useful outcome.
“Asma Assad, a mass murder’s enabler was enabled by our liberal press,” said Tom Quiner commenting on an article by Vogue ‘Asma Assad: A Rose in the Desert.’
“If proven, then she is in a regime that has committed at least one war crime. Remain a citizen of a free world country? I don’t think so,” John Lott said.
Another Twitter user wondered what benefit would such an action bring to the table saying that Asma is just a very small fish in this bloody ocean. “What will it change on the ground?”
Crocusville thought the suggestion was spiteful, vindictive and counterproductive.
One user welcomed the idea and wished everyone a “Happy Easter” on the occasion.
An Arab user wished that the suggestion is not just mere words, but actions should follow.
Meanwhile, an opposing point of view stressed, “only powerless and humiliated nations go for women to punish men.”
Diana Moukalled, a veteran journalist with extensive experience in both traditional and new media, wrote in Arab News on April 4 in her commentary that “both Western decision-makers and media professionals have fallen into a trap when it comes to Asma Assad’s image.”
Since January 2013, under S.40 of the British Nationality Act 1981, 37 individuals have been deprived of their British citizenship on the grounds that it was either conducive to the public good to do so, or that the individual concerned obtained their British citizenship by means of fraud, false representation or concealment of material fact, according to GOV.UK.