Insta-fail: App celebrates birthday of Syrian regime insider’s son in coronavirus post

Insta-fail: App celebrates birthday of Syrian regime insider’s son in coronavirus post
Instagram said Ali Makhlouf’s birthday post, in which he video-called friends on six separate screens, had them 'smiling' - despite him being the son of a notorious Assad regime insider.
2 min read
09 April, 2020
Rami Makhlouf's son Ali is somewhat of an Instagram celebrity [Getty]
Instagram's users expressed their shock on Thursday after the app reposted a video uploaded by Ali Makhlouf, the son of the notorious cousin of Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, in a compilation of feel-good coronavirus quarantine images.

The post, which garnered over 1 million likes and almost 15,000 comments in less than 24 hours, showed 22-year-old Makhlouf - whose father Rami is sanctioned by the US over his funding of the Assad regime via his business empire - celebrating his birthday in quarantine. 

Against a backdrop of balloons and sporting a face mask, Makhlouf extinguishes the candles on his decadent cake with a hair dryer, while being serenaded by friends and family on video call displayed across six different computer and tablet screens, at least four of them Apple models.

Instagram captioned the post: "The year is 2020 [...] Birthday parties get a twist", adding that it was reposting videos and photos that "have us smiling" and tagging Makhlouf.

Something of an Instagram celebrity, Ali Makhlouf has over 250,000 followers on the picture-sharing platform, where he shares glamorous photos of himself at various beach resorts around the world dressed in designer gear.

His profile indicates he divides his time between Syria, Dubai and Russia - the latter a brutal ally of Assad in Syria's civil war.

Ali is one of two sons of Rami Makhlouf, Bashar al-Assad's maternal cousin and the head of several monopolies across Syria's air travel, telecoms, real estate, oil and construction sectors that before the civil war had him valued at $5 billion.

Makhlouf was sanctioned by the US Treasury in 2008, which described him as a "powerful Syrian businessman and regime insider whom improperly benefits from and aids the public corruption of Syrian regime officials".

However unverified reports emerged last year of a rift between the two cousins, after Makhlouf was unable to provide Assad with $2 billion demanded by Russia. 

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