WHO LOVES YA, BASHAR? -
ASSAD REGIME BOOSTERS SHOW THEIR TRUE COLORS IN PARIS
As I approached the group, wading through two other protests taking place in the same square—one for Southern Moroccan independence, the other somehow affiliated with the Ivory Coast—I was overwhelmed with images of Assad, who most of the world holds responsible for 20,000 deaths over the past 20 months of civil war in Syria. The folks who had assembled here are some of his biggest fans.
Saïd, a 30-something French Syrian who refused to give me his last name, said that he admires Assad’s fashion sense, along with everything else about him: “Just have a look at the suit. He’s stylish.” Saïd told me that he and his family have been Assad supporters since the beginning of the uprising. His mother is a Sunni Muslim and his father is a Christian, and he’s convinced that only Assad can maintain the secular Syrian state. “With Bashar, the different religions can coexist. If the United States helps depose him, it’ll be over. Salafis will take over and kill everyone.”
It’s true that these protestors have a lot to lose if religious factions manage to take commandeer the country. Many of them are related to families of regime officials, Syrian Christians, and members of the Alawite sect that also includes golden-boy Bashar. Any and all of these groups could be persecuted if Islamic law is instated in the country.
Three Syrian women who live in Paris smile for their favorite dictator.
Nordine, a French fighter pilot of Syrian origin, attended the rally in his military uniform and wore a cap decorated with a Syrian flag. “I studied and learned my job in the United States, to protect and serve my country,” he said. “As a Syrian Alawite, I do my best to protect my people against barbarians.” When I asked him whom he considers to be the most barbarous group in his homeland, his answer was immediate: “Those who kill women and children. Salafis, Saudis, Qataris.” He paused. “And Jews.”