In a letter to the Home Office today, the Liberal Democrats will argue that the Syrian president’s wife is no longer acting as a personal citizen
A handout picture released on the Syrian presidency Facebook page on 7 July 2016 shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma (seated) visiting an injured man (AFP)
British politicians are urging the government to revoke the citizenship of Asma al-Assad, the wife of Syria’s President Bashar.
In a letter from the Liberal Democrats to the Home Office today, the party will urge the government to strip Asma, who grew up in Acton, London, of her British citizenship.
“The First Lady of Syria has acted, not as a private citizen, but as a spokesperson for the Syrian presidency,” Liberal Democrat shadow foreign secretary Tom Brake said in a statement.
“This is a barbarous regime, yet Asma al-Assad has continued to use her international profile to defend it, even after the chemical weapons atrocity.”
The former banker, who is a dual Syrian-British citizen, has a huge social media following, and has cultivated an image of herself as a woman of the people.
Last week, Asma’s personal Instagram account posted a Syrian presidency statement slamming the US for attacking Syria.
The US hit a Syrian airbase with cruise missiles after an alleged chemical weapons attack on 4 April, which the UK, US and others blame on the Syrian government. The Syrian president has said the attack was a “fabrication”.
At least 87 civilians were killed in the attack, which the UK thinks was carried out using sarin or a “sarin-like” substance.
Asma graduated from Kings College London, and married Bashar in 2000.
“The government is entitled to deprive someone of their citizenship if it is conducive to the public good because that person has prejudiced the interests of the United Kingdom,” Brake’s statement added.
“As the Assad regime has presided over a sickening civil war that has brought instability to the region and enabled terrorism to flourish, the justification seems clear. She enjoys dual nationality so would still remain a citizen of the country – and the regime – to which she is so publicly committed.”
Asma is already subject to sanctions and is unable to travel within the rest of the EU.
“If Asma continues defending the Assad regime’s murderous actions, the onus will be on the UK Government to deprive her of her citizenship or demonstrate that her actions are not seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the United Kingdom.”
Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi told the Sunday Times, which first reported the news: “The time has come where we go after [President] Assad in every which way, including people like Mrs Assad, who is very much part of the propaganda machine that is committing war crimes.”
Boris Johnson, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, said it was time Russia realised that Bashar al-Assad is “literally and metaphorically toxic.”