Skip to main content

AFP accused of rose-tinting Asma al-Assad's image

AFP accused of rose-tinting Asma al-Assad's image with photos of her picking flowers
3 min read
31 May, 2023
The Syrian president's wife, who has been accused of playing a major role in the crimes of her husband and his regime during Syria's 12-year war, can be seen picking flowers and smiling in photos shared last week by Agence France-Presse.
AFP captured and shared images of Asma al-Assad as she picked flowers in the Qalamoun region near Syria's border with Lebanon [Getty/TNA]

Photos taken and shared by French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) of the Syrian president’s wife picking flowers have sparked outrage on social media.

The photos of Asma al-Assad were taken on 25 May in the village of Al-Mrah, in the Qalamoun region close to the Lebanese border.

Wearing a white dress with pink embroidery, the 47-year-old is seen smiling and picking flowers alongside Syrian actors Sulaf Fawakherji and Mustafa al-Khani.

The footage was originally shared on Twitter last week by Acil Tabbara, AFP's Lebanon and Syria bureau chief, but it can no longer be found on her Twitter page. 

People accused the French news agency of "whitewashing" Asma al-Assad and glossing over her complicity in the crimes of her husband Bashar al-Assad.

Video from the occasion was shared by the Twitter account of the Syrian presidency. In the footage, she is also seen dining and chatting with several other people.

More than 500,000 Syrians have died and millions more have been displaced since 2011, the year his forces cracked down on peaceful protests against his repressive rule, leading to an ongoing civil war. More than 100,000 Syrians are missing.

Asma al-Assad has been accused of playing a central role in the decision-making of her husband's regime, and has even been tipped to succeed him.

The dual British-Syrian national is sanctioned by the US and other countries, and accused of stealing aid sent to Syrians through international donors.

The images of he flower picking reminded viewers of the 2011 Vogue coverage of Asma, when she was labelled "The Rose in the Desert" shortly before the Syrian conflict kicked off that same year. It was later taken down by the magazine.

"And so, 12 years and 100's of thousands of murdered people later, we're back to fawning coverage of Asma Assad as the 'rose of the desert'," one person wrote on Twitter.

"It’s giving fawning vibes à la Vogue’s 2011 'Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert' profile. That was odious, despite being written *before* her husband’s regime killed 200,000+ ppl," another said.

Arab countries have recently began to re-establish ties with the Syrian regime, which was given its seat back at the Arab League following a 12-year suspension. Earlier this month, Bashar al-Assad attended a summit in the Saudi city of Jeddah for the first time since.