Opening of museum to brother of Bashar Al Assad in Syria attracts criticism – Thebritishjournal

Opening of museum to brother of Bashar Al Assad in Syria draws criticism

The opening of a Syrian museum dedicated to the late brother of President Bashar Al-Assad drew condemnation this week, with critics decrying it as wasteful spending illustrating  the disconnect between Syria’s ruling elite and its long-suffering subjects. 

Syria’s General Sports Federation inaugurated the “Museum of the Golden Knight Basil Al-Assad” in Al-Assad Sports City in Latakia on Tuesday, state-owned SANA reported. 

Basil Al-Assad was the eldest son of former Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad and was widely expected to succeed his father to the presidency. His death in a car crash in 1994 prompted the eventual rise to power of his younger brother Bashar, an ophthalmologist in training in London, who became president after Hafez’s death in 2000.

The 350 square metre museum features a marble bust of the late heir-apparent under a dome of coloured glass and is set among gardens of 8,000 square metres, according to SANA. 

Exhibits include the former colonel’s equestrian medals and memorabilia including his riding clothes and saddles.

The museum opening formed part of commemorative activities to mark the 50-year anniversary of Assad family rule. A coup on November 13, 1970 brought the young air force officer Hafez to power.

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The secretary of the Baath Party branch in Latakia, Haitham Ismail, said the museum opening was a message to the world that Syria will remain a country of love and peace, SANA reported.  

Syrians online suggested otherwise.

“At a time when Syrians can’t find anything to eat, have to queue for bread and food, gas and oil, and salaries are less than $20 a month, Al-Assad opens a museum in Latakia to commemorate his dead brother Bassel,” one user commented.

Economic collapse and foreign sanctions did not appear to impact the ruling family though, noted Syrian journalist Asser Khattab. “Who needs bread or fuel for the impoverished population when you can establish an extravagant museum of Bassel Al-Assad instead, right? The budget for this was somehow not affected by coercive unilateral measures,” he wrote.

The museum is not the only facility in Syria to carry the late politician’s name. Basil Al-Assad International Airport serves Latakia, the home province of the Assad family. 

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In the Damascus Countryside, the Basil Al-Assad Equestrian Club continues to host show jumping contests despite the ongoing war, which has killed an estimated half a million Syrians and displaced half the population. 

Opening of museum to brother of Bashar Al Assad in Syria draws criticism The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ The Telegraph.

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