Syrian president’s British-born wife Asma al-Assad faces calls to be stripped of her UK citizenship
MPs called for the move after details emerged of Asma al-Assad’s role at the heart of the Syrian regime’s propaganda machine.
The 41-year-old, who originally comes from Acton in west London, has at least three official social media accounts that are being used to prop her husband’s regime – which has been accused of using banned chemical weapons on its own people.
On her Instagram, Facebook and Telegram accounts, she has told her 500,000 followers that the West is spreading lies, while praising the regime’s “martyrs.”
She was active on the sites on the day of the recent Sarin gas attack which sparked outrage around the world.
he time has come where we go after Assad in every which way, including people like Mrs Assad
Nadhim Zahawi – Tory MP
It is thought she has dual UK-Syrian nationality.
Today MPs and Syrians in the UK called on the Home Office to strip her of her British citizenship to send out a clear signal to her husband’s murderous regime.
Nadhim Zahawi, a Tory MP who sits on the foreign affairs committee, said: “The time has come where we go after Assad in every which way, including people like Mrs Assad, who is very much a part of the propaganda machine that is committing war crimes.”
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma al-Assad in Paris in 2008
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Liberal Democrat affairs spokesman Tom Brake said: “Boris Johnson has urged other countries to do more about Syria, but the British Government could say to Asma al-Assad, ‘Either stop using your position to defend barbaric acts or be stripped of your citizenship.”
Mrs Assad was placed under UK and EU sanctions in 2012 banning her from travelling to Europe and freezing any assets she has here.
Official records show that her British passport will expire in 2020.
A graduate of King’s College London, she married her husband, 51, in 2000. They have three children and her father Fawaz Akhras, a cardiologist, still lives in Acton with his wife, Sahar.
Syrian groups also called on the government to act over Mrs Assad’s citizenship.
Official records show that her British passport will expire in 2020
Dr Haytham Alhamwi, of Rethink Rebuild Society, an advocacy group for Syrians in the UK, said: “She has assumed a direct role in promoting ideals contradictory to the British public good.”
Because Mrs Assad, a former banker at JP Morgan, is understood to hold dual Syrian-UK nationality, taking away her British citizenship would not leave her stateless – which would be illegal.
Under the British Nationality Act, the Home Secretary has the power to take such a step if satisfied it would be “conducive to the public good.”