Instagram bursts with mockery of Syrian first lady’s ‘Mother's Day’ congratulations

An unrepentant Asma Al-Assad welcomes a group of mothers. (Photo courtesy: instagram.com/syrianpresidency)
Updated 23 March 2017

Instagram bursts with mockery of Syrian first lady’s ‘Mother's Day’ congratulations

DUBAI: Social media users made fun of Syrian First Lady Asma Al-Assad being named as the “Mother of the Nation.”
In comments replete with derision and taunts, they said it was galling on her part to be called the “Mother of the Nation” after having overseen the murder of nearly 400,000 of her compatriots since the 2011 revolution.
Almost 5 million people have fled Syria since the beginning of the war and a further 6.3 million remain as internally displaced persons, according to UNHCR data.
The Syrian president wife was named “Mother of the Nation” in a flurry of pictures and video clips released on the occasion of Mother’s Day in the Middle East.
To mark the occasion, which is celebrated on March 21 in the Arab world, Asma Al-Assad welcomed a group of mothers whose sons had died in the fighting in Aleppo.
The Instagram and Facebook accounts of the Syrian presidency posted images of the meeting, showing Asma Al-Assad hugging and laughing with a group of women.
The images and video were titled “Mother of the Nation,” in reference to the first lady. Instagram users went ballistic against her. “She has no shame,” said one Instagram user. “She and her husband have reduced the country into one big graveyard.” 
In a video posted to the Facebook page, Asma Al-Assad told the mothers: “You, Aleppo mothers, made Aleppo stronger. You have been the compass we all followed and went through toward victory. You decided you would win and you did through your sons, your homes, your endurance and your support to your army. You won and Aleppo won along with you.”
She further said: “Every mother that insisted on staying at her home despite the bombs of terrorism is a weapon in the hand of a soldier, and every mother who sent her children to school despite the fear and danger is a bullet in the rifle of every soldier.
The plight of civilians in Aleppo caused global outrage as Syrian troops moved from neighborhood to neighborhood and civilians posted social media videos bidding farewell to their followers.
“We appear to be witnessing nothing less than ... a total uncompromising military victory,” former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the time, according to Reuters.


Outspoken Iranian rapper Amir Tataloo arrested in Turkey

Updated 47 min 7 sec ago

Outspoken Iranian rapper Amir Tataloo arrested in Turkey

  • Tataloo was preparing to travel to the UK when he was detained, reportedly at the request of Iran
  • Fans and colleagues fear for much-loved musician’s safety if sent back to Iran

LONDON: Amir Tataloo, one of the most popular Iranians on social media and outspoken critic of the regime in Tehran, was arrested on Tuesday as he prepared to leave for the UK.

The rapper, whose real name is Amirhossein Maghsoodloo, was detained in Turkey where he had been living to pursue his career in music. Reports said the arrest was at Iran’s request.

Tataloo, who has performed for the BBC, is a long-standing opponent of Iran’s ruling mullahs and has denounced the establishment for not licencing his music, which Iran deems “Western, non-Iranian and immoral.”

He has been arrested in Iran multiple times for his lyrics, which spoke out against the government’s human rights abuses and restrictions on press freedom.

Iran International TV channel reported that Turkish authorities are currently working to facilitate Tataloo’s extradition to Iran, prompting fears for his safety from colleagues and fans.

A fan-made petition advocating for his release had already garnered more than 15,000 signatures.

The administrator of Tataloo’s social media accounts, known as Ronak, warned that “if Amir is handed over to Iranian police, it is unclear what is going to happen.”

She said: “Think you wake up today and think that from tomorrow you will go to a European country after years of pain… but instead they touch you and want to bring you back to the same country where your life has always been in danger.”

Tara Sepehri Far, Iran Researcher at Human Rights Watch, told Arab News that Tataloo has been harassed by authorities repeatedly, and that his “story of past persecution for artistic activities is very concerning right now.” 

Tataloo could “face a real threat of persecution or torture” if returned to Iran.

Even more worrying though, she said, is the way Iranian media is treating the arrest.

Far told Arab News that Iran is using this as an opportunity to “show that they’re capable of bringing people back to Iran.

“They’re using it as a propaganda tool and as leverage to show that Iran can project power beyond its borders.”

Tataloo has more than 3.2 million followers on Instagram and 1.25 million on Facebook.

The arrest comes at a time of heightened civil unrest within Iran, which has been wracked by months of anti-government protests.