Oh Vogue, you are so very good with the fashions, but the politics? Not so much. The high fashion mag’s latest gaffe is a poorly-timed profile of Syrian First Lady Asma al-Assad, which ran in the mag’s March 2011 issue. It used to be searchable on Vogue’s website, but it’s since been taken off the site. Why, you might ask? Well, Asma’s husband, Bashar al-Assad, is responsible for a vicious crackdown on his own citizens that began last year — right around when the profile on Asma was published — and has resulted in more than 9,000 Syrians have died. And according to reports, Asma is far from innocent. She’s been characterized as a “Marie Antoinette” of the regime, shopping for jewelry and clothing online while the violent uprising occurred.
Despite knowledge of al-Assad as an oppressive leader, no mention of it is made in the profile. Instead, Asma is described as “glamorous, young, and very chic — the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies,” by writer Joan Juliet Buck. Buck also notes that “the 35-year-old first lady’s central mission is to change the mind-set of six million Syrians under 18, encourage them to engage in what she calls ‘active citizenship.’”
Since the profile was originally published — complete with accompanying photos of Asma, Bashar and their children — it’s been pulled from Vogue’s website, but is still available on database Nexis (for a fee). For her part, Buck says that she regrets that Vogue named the piece “A Rose In the Desert,” and is horrified to have spent time in the al-Assads’ presence. Last week, Asma was called on to appeal to her husband to stop the bruatlity in a viral video. “Stand up for peace, Asma,” says a voiceover in the video. “…Stop being a bystander.” [Washington Post]