Talk:Asma al-Assad

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Vogue material[edit]

Working off of Veriss1's cogent comments above, if Etoiles is still interested in improving the article after her block expires, I suggest we start with the Vogue material as I believe that is her biggest complaint. We need to decide (1) whether the material deserves its own section, (2) what material to include, and (3) how the material should be worded. As a subissue to issue #1, if we determine that the material should not be in a separate section, we need to decide where it should go. I suggest we start with issues #2 and #3 first.

Although I quoted it above, for ease of reference, here is the material currently in the article:

In March 2011, Vogue published a flattering profile of the first lady titled "A Rose in the Desert" authored by veteran fashion writer Joan Juliet Buck. The article was later removed from Vogue's website without editorial comment that spring. Responding to media inquiries about the disappearance of Assad's profile, Vogue’s editor stated that "as the terrible events of the past year and a half unfolded in Syria, it became clear that [Syria's] priorities and values were completely at odds with those of Vogue". After strong public and media reaction to the article, Buck's contract was not renewed with Vogue although she had been employed by the magazine for over 30 years and had been an editor of French Vogue for seven years. The New York Times later reported that the piece was intended as part of a larger Syrian government-sponsored image campaign coordinated by the public relations firm Brown Lloyd James. Buck has since written another article for Newsweek giving an extremely critical account of Asma al-Assad, concluding that she is the "first lady of hell". Separately, Buck's original profile of Assad was satirized in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Any editor can comment on the above material, but it would be preferable to do so in concrete terms, i.e., remove x sentence, reword y sentence from a to b. No matter how much we may disagree, the discussion must remain civil and respectful.

I'll get things going a little and suggest the following (some paring down and some rewording):

In March 2011, Vogue published a flattering profile of the first lady titled "A Rose in the Desert" authored by fashion writer Joan Juliet Buck. The article was removed from Vogue's website without comment that spring. Responding to media inquiries about its removal, Vogue’s editor stated that "it became clear that [Syria's] priorities and values were completely at odds with those of Vogue". The New York Times later reported that the piece was intended as part of a larger Syrian government-sponsored image campaign coordinated by a public relations firm. Buck later wrote another article for Newsweek giving a critical account of Asma al-Assad.

I mostly removed material. Notably, I removed the sentence about Buck's contract - the relevance to Asma is too remote. I also eliminated the inflammatory "first lady of hell" quote as unnecessary and Buck's opinion. I also removed the satire of the original profile as again being only remotely relevant to Asma as opposed to Buck. I also left out the name of the PR firm - who cares? It wouldn't bother me also to remove ""coordinated by a public relations firm" as the important Asma aspect is that the piece was part of a Syrian government campaign, not who executed it for the government.

Just as an aside, my recollection is that much of the discussion that occurred a long time ago about this material was a spillover from the Buck article itself, meaning that some editors were more interested in the Buck article and saw the Asma article as a way to augment their views. To some extent, that's emblematic of WP:COATRACK and shouldn't be permitted, but at Wikipedia one works with consensus, even if one disagrees with it, and the Buck consensus was unfortunately intertwined with the Asma consensus. But that doesn't mean we can't revisit it.

I'll await comments.--Bbb23 (talk) 16:18, 30 November 2013 (UTC)

As commented above, it should be much shorter, dispense with minor detail and focus on material directly about the subject, rather than about Vogue.

In 2012, it was reported in the New York Times that a flattering profile of al-Assad, published by Vogue the previous year, had been connected to a public relations initiative of the Syrian government.

Formerip (talk) 16:33, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
I am in agreement with FormerIP and I would appreciate it if you (the lot of you) acknowledged the opinion of FormerIP, as he/she is much more eloquent than myself in basically saying that the material should DIRECTLY focus on Asma Al-Assad without all the opinions, fluff, and fillers. Upon doing some minor research, I realized whoever decided to include this irrelevant Vogue section basically COPIED AND PASTED the exact same thing from the page of Joan Juliet Buck. How lazy. The fact is, the Vogue piece has been retracted. Anna Wintour herself has retracted the piece. It does NOT deserve its own section and instead, should be included somewhere in the First Lady section. I'm actually ALL IN FAVOR of what FormerIP has suggested, as he/she has made changes that is straight to the point, without all the unnecessary rubbish.Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 02:34, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
I agree that the Buck section needs to be trimmed even more then Bbb23 and I trimmed it over a year ago and the content merged into the preceding section. The problem I have with FormerIP's suggestion is that it lacks so much context that the reader would say to themselves "so what" when they read it. It needs some context so I am leaning more towards Bbb23's suggestion and also agreeing that it no longer needs a seperate section. If we decide to keep the PR firm bit, then we should add "American" or "US" to qualify it. Veriss (talk) 09:51, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
Well, I think "so what" would be exactly right, which is the nub of the issue. A story about Vogue belongs in the article about Vogue and a story about Joan Juliet Buck belongs in the article about Joan Juliet Buck. But al-Assad's involvement is tangential. She consented to a profile in Vogue, but she's not really involved after that point. Formerip (talk) 14:30, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
FormerIP, I think that's a bit of an overstatement (or should it be understatement?). According to reliable sources, a PR firm hired by the government, of which Asma is a part, arranged the puff piece. Giving the article a little more context would he helpful to the Asma article. The contretemps between Buck and Vogue, I agree, is not relevant to the Asma article. I also think that the Buck's subsequent critical piece of Asma is worth a mention and completes the "circle". I am fine with not separating the material into its own section.--Bbb23 (talk) 15:31, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
OK, yes, according to reliable sources, a PR firm hired by the government, of which Asma is a part, arranged the puff piece. This is all that's remotely relevant to the article (although not exactly fascinating - what wife of a head of state doesn't have PR people working on her image?) and it can be said in a single sentence, as I have done in my suggestion above. What additional context are you suggesting? What happened subsequently at Vogue isn't context, it's coatrack. Formerip (talk) 20:59, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
So an editor has suggested we should "make stuff happen" and says that this discussion is "stagnant" and yet, no one has addressed FormerIP's question about additional context. Are select editors choosing to ignore FormerIP's participation in this discussion? What is this, a pre-school playground??? Can we not work together and play nice? Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 10:13, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
Bbb23, not true. If you read the piece by Buck, you will read that Vogue had approached Asma al-Assad for two years to do a piece. She had declined each time before finally consenting. To directly quote Buck, "The editor explained that the first lady was young, good-looking, and had never given an interview. Vogue had been trying to get to her for two years. Now she’d hired a PR firm, and they must have pushed her to agree." Who is the reliable source you are referencing? There is no doubt that the government (or al-Assad) hired a PR firm, but the proactive pushing for the article was on Vogue's part. That is, according to Buck. Why was Vogue pushing to do a piece on al-Assad? Who knows. Perhaps because the orientalist perception of women in the Middle East is that they are oppressed, covered, and subservient creatures. P.S. FormerIP, you are a REFRESHING editor to have on this page. You are so classy and concise in relaying what I have been feeling all this time. Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 20:30, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
"I also think that the Buck's subsequent critical piece of Asma is worth a mention and completes the "circle" - nope, don't agree with that. That can go on Buck's page, arranged by Buck's people. I read over Buck's subsequent piece, as well as Buck's original Vogue's piece, which has been resurrected by Gawker. It's really appalling to me how different her impressions are in both pieces and it's further mind boggling to me that somehow, a Vogue piece that should have focused on "culture, antiquities, and museums" became a "Rose in the Desert" or whatever rubbish the Vogue piece ended up being. Quoting Buck's subsequent piece, "We don’t want any politics, none at all,” said the editor, “and she [al-Assad] only wants to talk about culture, antiquities, and museums. You like museums. You like culture. She wants to talk to you. You’d leave in a week.” I don't believe Buck deserves any mention on this page. She is insignificant. Vogue employed Buck, Vogue paid/arranged for the piece. I'm still ALL IN FAVOR of FormerIP's suggestion. We don't need the additional commentary by Buck, the Guardian, the Telegraph, CNN, etc. Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 20:57, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

The Vogue piece contains useful information about what Mrs Assad is like as a person. It comes from a reliable source. It does not present a rounded picture though. But that is OK, because the article can use other sources for that. There is the potential sticking point that Vogue has withdrawn the article from its website - but Vogue has not said that this was because the article got its facts wrong - just that Mrs Assad and her husband have different values. There are also plenty of reliable sources to show that the article was an embarrassment to Vogue. In any case, newspapers routinely withdraw articles from their websites, and that does not in itself stop the articles from being reliable sources. I think it is therefore appropriate to use facts from the Vogue article in the Wikipedia article to say what Mrs Assad is like.

But there is also the issue of the hate campaign against Mrs Assad. This hate campaign started long before Vogue article. For example, it is illegal to accept her credit cards as payment in shops in her native London. The criticism of the Vogue article was part of this hate campaign. I do not think the Vogue article deserves a section on its own. It should be part of a section on the hate campaign against Mrs Assad. I think things like the US newspaper comparing Mrs Assad to Eva Braun is relevant to the article.

I do not think that Buck's face-saving article is particularly relevant to this article - it seems reminiscent of all those Germans who after the war suddenly started liking Jews.--Toddy1 (talk) 21:55, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

Dearest Toddy1, welcome!!!!!! :)♥♥♥♥ The main qualm I have with the Vogue piece is that in comparison to Buck's preceding piece with Newsweek, although the author is the same, the opinions and perceptions of the author towards the subject seem drastically different. It's as if Buck has a double personality. How on earth do you go from, "freshest and most magnetic of first ladies" to "first lady of hell"??? It's bipolar. I'm not sure which of the two articles is more "authentic" in terms of capturing who the subject is as a person, as a first lady, etc. There's something very questionable about the ethnics of Buck as a writer. But you are right in that the reason the original article was retracted was not because the facts were wrong, but rather, the political situation of Syria.
Indeed, the issue of the hate campaign against the subject is also something to consider. There is such limited information online about her and she's been criminalized by de-facto due to her association/marriage to Bashar al-Assad. The subject has been compared to Marie Antoinette, Eva Perón, Imelda Marcos, and Eva Braun, amongst other female historical figures. But my issue with these comparisons is who is making these comparisons? And what agency do they have to be issuing these parallels? By making these comparisons, the writers are creating an environment for the reader to have preconceived notions of the subject.
I am patiently waiting for Bbb23 to name his reliable sources on the Syrian government or the subject herself orchestrating the Vogue piece. At this time, I'm leaning towards the earlier quote from Buck, who has stated that it was in fact Vogue who was courting/arranged for the subject to do the original piece. I did go over the cited sources and nothing (including the original NY Times piece) names any kind of "reliable sources" that substantiate that the "puff piece", as mentioned by Bbb23, was the product of the proactive efforts of the PR firm, Brown Lloyd James, which has previously been used/hired by the Clinton, Bush, and Thatcher administrations, and was the PR firm hired by the Assads and/or the Syrian government.
I am so HAPPY to have Toddy1 and FormerIP here on this article. Welcome, with open arms, to both of you! :) Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 06:02, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
I have been watching this discussion but have a lot going in in my real life at the moment. I have some fresh perspectives after looking over all of the US first lady articles back to Mrs. Kennedy and all of the first ladies or consorts of the nations near Syria, in particular, focusing on the first ladies or consorts who are notable for their sense of style, such as Queen Rania of Jordan, etc. (Trying to keep this brief so she is just a single example). I also noticed that there was very little about the wives of Prime Ministers in other English speaking countries such as the UK, Canada, Australia, etc. or any predominantly Islamic nation. It appears that the only ready examples for articles of a first lady are US or French first ladies. Most of those articles include extensive discussions about their style, public image and relations with the press though not all do, such as Barbara Bush's article. Similar discussions would be very applicable to Mrs. Assad.
Even as a guy, I know that Mrs. Assad is well known for her style and fashion sense. Perhaps we should all look at the articles of other first ladies or consorts who are known for being stylish for ideas. I am beginning to think that a section dedicated to discussing her public image, fashions, etc. would be worthwhile to start building since that is one area she is very notable for and there are many, many articles available in that area. A very trimmed down discussion of the Buck business could be covered there with other material that would help balance it. If she was an ugly toad I don't think any amount of Syrian funding would persuade Vogue to feature her.
These are just some quick, though admittedly, incomplete, thoughts to let you know what I am working on. I hope my real life will settle down and I am able to contribute more thought out suggestions soon. I think this is something everyone else can look into in the meantime. Regards, V Veriss (talk) 08:10, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
>How on earth do you go from, "freshest and most magnetic of first ladies" to "first lady of hell"?
Buck's switch was a face-saving manoeuvre. Some people (particularly women) have personalities that make them "fit in" well with the people around them. Such a personality can lead to a happy marriage, and good promotion in a job, because bosses and colleagues find such people easy to get on with. Of course, such people have no backbone; they just go along with whatever the people round them think is right.--Toddy1 (talk) 08:31, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Hi Toddy1! :) I think it is really sad that Buck felt she had to save face and to do so, had to be shamed (maybe?) into losing her credibility as a writer by giving two drastically different perspectives on the subject. Very sad. I even wonder perhaps, if Buck's contract was not renewed by Vogue simply because her time at Vogue was over. After all, I cannot imagine how Vogue can punish a writer they pushed (or "pressured", as Buck says) into doing a piece that she did not have much interest in doing.
>"If she was an ugly toad I don't think any amount of Syrian funding would persuade Vogue to feature her."
You and Bbb23 keep suggesting that the Vogue piece was arranged/pushed for by the Syrian government or the Assads. Well, I think you are suggesting that Vogue was paid off to do this piece on the subject? Where is the proof for these allegations? I'm going strictly based upon what Buck has said in her interview with Newsweek and according to Buck (this is a repeat), Vogue was trying to do a piece on the subject for TWO YEARS. The subject did not consent/agree until the PR firm came into the picture. Coincidentally, I was also thinking of the subject in comparison to Queen Rania, who is another figure of the Middle East that the "West" is obsessed with. Queen Rania, Princess Ameera al-Taweel of Saudi Arabia, and to a lesser degree, Queen Noor, all come to mind as women of the Middle East who are simply written off as fashionable "pretty faces" that challenge the orientalist depiction of women in the Arab world. To quote Buck yet again, the subject was "extremely thin and very well-dressed, and therefore qualified to be in Vogue.”.... Nothing misogynistic about that.Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 09:06, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Sadly, you seemed to zero in on one statement and missed the bigger picture. The Buck article was a major incident in her public image domain and that is not going away no matter how much people may wish it would. It deserves discussion and should be discussed. I was looking for ways to balance it and present other aspects of her public image along side it and think there are plenty of sources and opportunities to do so. I have a lot going on so don't have much time to connect all the dots for everyone so you guys need to think out of the box for a change and quit nit picking over trivial stuff. After spending a significant amount of time reviewing many other first ladies/spouses/consorts pages I observed that many had a section discussing their public image, relations with the press, etc. I think she deserves a full section devoted to her fashion, style, media relations and public image. Regards, V. Veriss (talk) 07:42, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
I do not think the attacks on the Vogue article should be part of a PR section. I think it should be in a section on the Syrian Civil War - alongside international restrictions on her shopping in Europe. The article needs to put it in the context of a hate campaign against Mrs Assad, even from her native country's government (she is a British citizen).--Toddy1 (talk) 23:07, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
Veriss, that single one statement is one that is significant if you want to have future discussions on the piece. There is a big difference between being asked to do something and pushing to do something proactively. I guess it just comes down to individual values and priorities. I am someone who believes in the details of the fabric and not simply looking at the finished product. In regards to your personal life: I assure you, we all have things going on in our lives. We all have a life. So just FYI: you aren't the only one.
This should not come as a surprise, but I am in complete support of the suggestions made by FormerIP and Toddy1. It's hard to reach "consensus" on anything on this page when it seems the two editors who are dominant in their editing ways are absent from the discussion. I was hoping to get this knocked out of the way within a week's time and it seems that for whatever reasons, this collaborative discussion is moving at a snail's pace. Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 06:50, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
A few comments. First, consensus building at Wikipedia is often a slow process. Second, I'm not sure I understand Toddy1's points. Third, there are other dispute resolution mechanisms that can be used, Etoiles, if you wish. Finally, I understand your frustration, and I appreciate the fact that you've left the article alone while the process continues.--Bbb23 (talk) 14:36, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
"I'm not sure I understand Toddy1's points". Which words/phrases/sentences do you not understand?--Toddy1 (talk) 19:01, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Toddy1, I proposed language to replace what is currently in the article. FormerIP proposed different language. I think we are in agreement that there doesn't need to be a separate section for the Vogue material (I know I'm good with that, anyway). Rather than my trying to parse your points, what language are you proposing?--Bbb23 (talk) 20:12, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
There are several good ways of handling this. However there is a a problem with sources currently available:
  • One good approach would be to have a section entitled something like: Mrs Assad during the Syrian Civil War. This could cover her various activities, the measures taken against Mrs Assad by foreign governments to make it difficult for her to go shopping in Western Europe, and the hostile propaganda campaign against her. I think the word "during" would be essential to that kind of approach - it is NPOV - it does not imply that there is anything bad about her going shopping, for example. This approach could be supported by sources currently available.
  • Another good approach would be to have a section devoted to those of Mrs Assad's activities that were directly linked to the civil war, and another section devoted to her trying to maintain a normal life for her family (she is a wife and mother), and a third section devoted to the hostile action by foreigners such a foreign governments and foreign media. If we were writing about events fifty years ago, this might be a better approach, as we would have proper histories, and memoirs to draw on. But currently we have newspaper reports, magazines, websites, etc. which are both participants in the battle for hearts and minds, and sources for so-called "facts". This makes it very difficult to support this second approach now.
On balance, the first approach seems best.--Toddy1 (talk) 21:34, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, Toddy, I suspected you were suggesting more ambitious changes to the article. I understand that you may believe it's hard to isolate the Vogue material from a restructuring and other changes to the article, but if you were to focus, at least for the moment, on the Vogue material, what would you propose? If we could come to a consensus on just that one issue, we could, of course, address other issues with respect to the article. One aside: if the article spills over more deeply into the Syrian civil war topic, it would then be subject to general sanctions (see WP:SCWGS). It's arguable whether it's already there.--Bbb23 (talk) 22:52, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
"First, consensus building at Wikipedia is often a slow process." Yes, but perhaps not so slow when you have two buddy-pals monopolizing an article. Très bizarre. I understood all of Toddy's points. "I appreciate the fact that you've left the article alone while the process continues." I'm leaving the article alone for now, but that will not be for long. FormerIP has made a superior suggestion in comparison to yours and Toddy1 is hitting at some very valid points that obviously you nor Veriss have addressed/considered. I'm not going to sit on my thumbs and whistle myself in boredom if legitimate editing does not commence in the coming days. This is not proactive and the article as it stands has many flaws. Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 20:29, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
P.S. Bbb23 -- FormerIP has directed questions to you above. Please address said questions, directed to you on December 2, 2013. Let's get the ball rolling and engage in effective communication and transparent dialogue. Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 20:33, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
I just want to say that the issue of "language" has been brought up. Bbb23, I don't like your "language". Your "language" is too wordy. I like FormerIP's "language" because it is concise and gets right into the gist of things, without all the gibberish. Those are my two cents for the day. Thanks. Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 07:50, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

One of our colleagues posted a request for comments seeking new input from additional editors which I support and commend. I had already posted a couple of suggestions focusing on what I think is the the bigger picture for improving her article toward a level similar to US and French First Ladies. I was not ignoring anyone's suggestions but was waiting for additional outside input. I still think the media event (circus) should be addressed but feel that should be done in a section where other related material can be presented so that it is balanced. Veriss (talk) 09:06, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

  • Notice. Please be aware that an uninvolved administrator has placed a notice at the top of this talk page that the article is subject to WP:SCWGS. No one in this discussion has edited the article recently, but I wouldn't want anyone to inadvertently run afoul of the restrictions.--Bbb23 (talk) 13:58, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
Unfortunately the warning notice is on the talk page, not the article page. So the people who need to see it, will not see it until too late (if ever). The notice itself is hidden amongst Wikiproject notices, etc. It is is effectively invisible to all editors who are likely to break the rule. This is completely unsatisfactory - there should be a warning notice visible to people when they try to edit the article page.--Toddy1 (talk) 19:47, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
Sanctions warning notices are always on talk pages. Sometimes, an edit notice is used on the article itself. In this instance, the administrator who placed the template on the talk page chose not to create an edit notice (it's not required). Editors can also be notified directly of the sanctions.--Bbb23 (talk) 19:53, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

It has been eight days since this thread was started and though a colleague solicited more eyes, it appears that we have attracted very few new editors with fresh views. I suspect that new editors see this long, emotional thread, sometimes laced with vitriol and decide to steer clear of the drama. I really don't blame them as I myself have considered removing this article from my watch list at least a few times due to the unneeded hysterics and unremitted personal attacks and insinuations.

Some of our editors have expressed an interest in wrapping this particular discussion up so we can move on to resolving other relevant outstanding topics.

Bbb23 submitted this proposal:

In March 2011, Vogue published a flattering profile of the first lady titled "A Rose in the Desert" authored by fashion writer Joan Juliet Buck. The article was removed from Vogue's website without comment that spring. Responding to media inquiries about its removal, Vogue’s editor stated that "it became clear that [Syria's] priorities and values were completely at odds with those of Vogue". The New York Times later reported that the piece was intended as part of a larger Syrian government-sponsored image campaign coordinated by a public relations firm. Buck later wrote another article for Newsweek giving a critical account of Asma al-Assad.

This situation, as addressed in the quote above, sparked a huge media splash and is notable simply from the number of articles generated by it. I really don't see anything in this discussion of the event directly negative or attacking Ms. Assad. It isn't exactly positive but it isn't an indictment either. It gives context to a major event in her relations with the mainstream media which is valid for discussion, especially if you look at other first lady/consort pages. I don't see any aspect of it furthering any "hate" campaign against her. It is a very matter of fact discussion and doesn't attack her in any way that I can see.

To pare it down much further would remove any context. What exactly about this discussion as quoted directly above could be seen as furthering an alleged "hate campaign"? Why does this article not deserve a balanced discussion of her public image, media relations, etc.?

I'm sorry, perhaps I am dense, but the vehement and sometimes emotional objections still puzzle me. Regards, V Veriss (talk) 07:34, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

I love how you acknowledge Bbb23 proposal (massive surprise, surprise *cue in the fireworks*) but did not address FormerIP's proposal.

In 2012, it was reported in the New York Times that a flattering profile of al-Assad, published by Vogue the previous year, had been connected to a public relations initiative of the Syrian government.

Veriss, instead of repetitively assuming/suspecting that the reason why there are no new editors is because of the supposed "drama", how about not assuming/suspecting anything? Do you think that maybe *gasps* that there might not be that many people interested in this article subject and hence the lack of editors? Wow. Do you think that might be a possibility? For the fourth or fifth time, I vote for FormerIP's suggestion. ;) Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 09:53, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
As I have said several times. "To pare it down much further would remove any context. What exactly about this discussion as quoted directly above could be seen as furthering an alleged "hate campaign"? Why does this [topic] not deserve a balanced discussion of her public image, media relations, etc.? You never answered an honest question. Regards, V Veriss (talk) 10:03, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
You know what, since you and Bbb23 work as a singular. Why don't YOU answer FormerIP's question from earlier this week? There's TOO MUCH GIBBERISH right now. We need a SIMPLIFIED blurb on this. Context, you say??? What in the world does BUCK have to do with this article? Vogue was COMMISSIONED by VOGUE, so Vogue deserves mention, but not Buck. As for answering YOUR question, was your question directed towards ME??? If so, directly address me. And you might want to RE-READ this entire discussion, because it was not I who brought up the alleged "hate campaign"! Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 10:08, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
LOL, looks like you lost your temper, yet again. I'll go to bed so you can make endless edits to your post and will check tomorrow's version. Regards, V Veriss (talk) 10:14, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
Funny, eh? Isn't this the passionate "E" that you so sadly missed just one month past as you nostalgically discussed on your comrade Bbb23's talk page? Go to bed and indulge in your dreams! Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 10:19, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── As far as I can tell, we are at a standstill. Two editors, FormerIP and E are in favor of FormerIP's proposal, and Veriss1 and I are in favor of mine. As far as I can tell, Toddy1 has not taken a position, but even if he did, it would hardly be a consensus. As I've said before, we do appear to agree that a separate section is not needed, although we have not precisely pinpointed where the new language would go in the article. Unless we can get past this impasse, the article will remain as it is. My suggestion is WP:DRN. Any editor can initiate a discussion there. I don't intend to do so.--Bbb23 (talk) 15:34, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

I do not think we are at a stand still. It just takes time for people to realise how the small differences between the different ideas can be accommodated.--Toddy1 (talk) 16:27, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

reference sump[edit]

This section exists to collect up any references from previous sections, and separate them from the next section.

Thanks for cleaning up the references. Veriss (talk) 03:50, 9 December 2013 (UTC)


RfC: Fresh eyes needed to re-examine the article and remove unnecessary tabloid-like material, bias opinions (many from the western perspective), as well improvement in the basic flow of the article[edit]

In comparison to the article subject's controversial husband, the subject's page is filled with a lot of extraneous information and opinionated commentary. The article has been mainly under the supervision of two editors. The article needs a facelift and new eyes to see the article from a outsider's (uninvolved) perspective. Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 17:50, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

It comes across as propaganda. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 184.147.138.16 (talk) 23:56, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

Proposed New Section: Ms. Assad's Style, Public Image and Media Relations[edit]

I proposed a section like this above modelled after Ms. Obama's article. It was buried in a long, tiresome and sometimes vitriolic thread so perhaps was missed by some who skimmed over the extraneous drama. I think about 3/4 of the First Lady section and all of the following section could be combined into a new section. This would leave the First Lady section a bit bare but that may invite editors to flesh it out with new information.

The following is a simple copy and paste merging the info from the two sections:

Style and public image[edit]

She was described by analysts and in media as an important part of the public relations effort of the Syrian government early in her tenure as first lady and she was credited with taking progressive positions on women's rights and education.[1][2][3] The United Nations Development Program, UNDP, spent US$ 18 million to help organise a complex set of reform initiatives showing the Syrian government was working toward a more modern and progressive form of government. A key part of the program was helping to create "a reformer’s aura" for Asma al-Assad, highlighting her participation in anti-poverty and social programs and her role as founder and chair of a national umbrella charity called the Syrian Trust for Development until the program was suspended as the country descended into civil war.[4][5]Additionally, her stylish designer outfits garnered media attention including fashion slideshows on The Huffington Post and Elle.[2][6][7] As a Sunni Muslim by birth, Asma al-Assad's leading role was also important for the view of the Syrian government and president, an Alawite, among the Sunni majority of Syria.[8][citation needed]

Syrian Civil War[edit]

A serious blow was dealt to her public image since the Syrian civil war[8] intensified in early 2012 amid reports of her extravagant personal shopping.[2] A new picture emerged in western media "of a woman closer in spirit to Imelda Marcos than the moderating counselor to her husband's excesses that she was once seen as being".[9] The Daily Telegraph reported that in January 2012, despite worldwide condemnation of her husband's regime, she appeared with him and two of their children at a pro-regime rally.[10]

The first lady was criticized for remaining silent throughout the beginning of the Syrian uprising.[8] She issued her first official statement to international media since the insurrection began in February 2012, nearly a year after the first serious protests.[2][11][12] She sent an e-mail to The Times stating: "The President is the President of Syria, not a faction of Syrians, and the first lady supports him in that role." The communique also described her continued support for charities and rural development activities.[13] Also in early February, she sent an email to the The Times declaring her support for her husband and related that she "comforts" the "victims of the violence".[10][14]

On 23 March 2012, the European Union froze her assets and placed a travel ban on her and President Assad's other close family members as part of escalating sanctions against the Syrian government.[15][16] Asma al-Assad herself remains able to travel to the UK because of herBritish nationality but she is barred from entering the rest of the EU.[17]

On 16 April 2012, Huberta von Voss Wittig and Sheila Lyall Grant, the wives of the German and British ambassadors to the United Nations, released a four-minute video asking Asma al-Assad to stand up for peace and urge her husband to end the bloodshed in her country.[18][19]

She had not been seen in public regularly since the July 2012 bombing of the Military Intelligence Directorate that took place in Damascus, leading to press speculation and government denials that she had fled the country or the capital city of Damascus.[20][21] She made a public appearance at the Damascus Opera House for an event called "Mother's Rally" on March 18, 2013, refuting the rumors.[22][23] She made another public appearance in October 2013 and further dispelled the rumors of her fleeing the country by saying "I was here yesterday, I'm here today and I will be here tomorrow."[24]

In March 2011, Vogue published a flattering profile of the first lady titled "A Rose in the Desert" authored by veteran fashion writer Joan Juliet Buck. The article was later removed from Vogue's website without editorial comment that spring.[8][25][26]Responding to media inquiries about the disappearance of Assad's profile, Vogue’s editor stated that "as the terrible events of the past year and a half unfolded in Syria, it became clear that [Syria's] priorities and values were completely at odds with those of Vogue".[27] After strong public and media reaction to the article, Buck's contract was not renewed with Vogue although she had been employed by the magazine for over 30 years and had been an editor of French Vogue for seven years.[28] The New York Times later reported that the piece was intended as part of a larger Syrian government-sponsored image campaign coordinated by the public relations firm Brown Lloyd James.[27][29] Buck has since written another article for Newsweek giving an extremely critical account of Asma al-Assad, concluding that she is the "first lady of hell".[28] Separately, Buck's original profile of Assad was satirized in The Philadelphia Inquirer.[30]
  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference Bennet was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ a b c d Agence France-Presse (14 January 2012). "Syria's First Lady Asma al-Assad Falling from Grace". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 14 February 2012. ([1])
  3. ^ "Will Asma al-Assad take a stand or stand by her man?". Edition.cnn.com. 25 December 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  4. ^ George Russell (20 September 2012). "Before Assad unleashed violence, UN showcased wife Asma as a 'champion' of reform". FoxNews. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  5. ^ George Russel (8 October 2012). "UN-sponsored group in Syria included Assad kin cited as corrupt by US, documents show". FoxNews. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  6. ^ "Asma Al Assad: Syria's First Lady And All-Natural Beauty (SLIDESHOW)". The Huffington Post. 15 March 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "Best Dressed 2008: Women of State". Elle(French). December 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  8. ^ Cite error: The named reference desert_rose was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  9. ^ "Syrian first lady's caring image unlikely to recover", The Independent, 16 March 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2012
  10. ^ a b "Syria's First Lady Asma al-Assad breaks her silence". The Telegraph. 7 February 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  11. ^ "Asma al-Assad, the glamorous face of Syria's dictatorship". National Post. 13 January 2012. Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  12. ^ Fletcher, Martin (30 January 2012). "Has Syria's Princess Diana become its Marie Antoinette?". The Australian. The Times. 
  13. ^ Agence France-Presse (8 February 2012). "First lady breaks silence to support President Assad". The Age. 
  14. ^ "Asma al-Assad and the tricky role of the autocrat's wife". BBC. 8 February 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 
  15. ^ "Syria crisis: EU to put sanctions on Asma al-Assad". BBC News. 23 March 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2012. [2]
  16. ^ Council Implementing Decision 2012/172/CFSP of 23 March 2012 implementing Decision 2011/782/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Syria 24 March 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  17. ^ "Assad's relatives face asset freeze and travel ban as EU steps up sanctions". The Guardian. 23 March 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  18. ^ "UN ambassador wives in peace plea to Syria's Asma Assad". BBC News. 16 April 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2012. 
  19. ^ International letter and petition to Asma al-Assad (Youtube video by Huberta von Voss Wittig and Sheila Lyall Grant, 16 April 2012)
  20. ^ "Hunt for Assad is on amid claims of wife Asma's exit to Russia". The Independent (London, UK). 20 July 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  21. ^ "Free Syrian Army move HQ from Turkey to Syria". France 24. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  22. ^ Syria: Asma al-Assad makes rare public appearance
  23. ^ Surrounded by children, Syria's first lady makes rare appearance
  24. ^ "Asma al-Assad denies leaving Syria". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 30 Nov 2013. 
  25. ^ Cook, John (28 February 2011). "Vogue Defends Profile of Syrian First Lady". The Atlantic. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  26. ^ Cook, John (20 May 2011). "Memory Hole: Vogue Disappears Adoring Profile of Syrian Butcher's Wife". Gawker. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  27. ^ a b Allen, Nick (11 June 2012). "Syria: Vogue's Anna Wintour disowns Asma al-Assad". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 June 2012. 
  28. ^ a b "Syria's Fake First Family". The Daily Beast. 30 July 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  29. ^ "Syria's Assads Turned to West For Glossy P.R.". The New York Times. 10 June 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  30. ^ "The Puff Piece and Its Perils". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 6 April 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 

This is merely a rough merge to try to rejuvenate the stagnant discussion above. Let's talk about the merits of a section like this in general terms before we get wrapped up in slicing and dicing minor passages. Let's make stuff happen. Regards, V. Veriss (talk) 08:21, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

I don't even want to think about this until we flesh out the Vogue piece. The only reason why the discussion above is "stagnant" is because there has been no further acknowledgement of the suggestion made by our new editor, FormerIP. Consensus should be established amongst the editors PRESENT in the article and talk page. This isn't about the opinions of a couple editors anymore. This might take some time getting used to, but we have five active editors in the discussion now. No more monkey business. Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 10:04, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
Some editors have said that they do not think that there should be a separate section on the Vogue article, saying that it needs to be put in context. Veriss1 has responded to this with what he/she thinks might be a solution. I think Les Etoiles de Ma Vie may not have understood that Veriss1's proposal above is an attempt to "flesh out the Vogue piece".
Les Etoiles de Ma Vie do you think that the proposal is a good idea? Or is it mistaken? If you think it is mistaken, please could you propose something else, and explain why your proposal is better.--Toddy1 (talk) 10:23, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
'Toddy1', hi! :) I'm all for not giving the Vogue article a separate section. However, Veriss has not fleshed out anything. He's too stuck on "context" to want to flesh out much because unless things make direct sense to him, everything just hits the fan. Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 10:27, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
Toddy1, you know I have the utmost respect for you. However, I don't think I see anywhere in what Veriss has just written where he suggests fleshing out material. Rather, all he is suggesting is that we merge the two sections. And he wants to "merge" the two sections before "slicing and dicing", which is what I consider "fleshing out". Honestly, Veriss is simply doing what I have been suggesting all along which is to include mention of the Vogue piece in the First Lady section. However, I don't want to think about any "merging" until we re-visit the Vogue piece, which is what Bbb23 suggested we do. P.S. Veriss has forgotten the serial comma in the heading of this suggested merging of the sections. I guess old habits are hard to break! Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 10:40, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
Actually, I just did some simple research and I do not agree with "media relations" in the subheading/section title. Media relations, as defined by Wikipedia: Media relations involves working with media for the purpose of informing the public of an organization's mission, policies and practices in a positive, consistent and credible manner. Typically, this means coordinating directly with the people responsible for producing the news and features in the mass media. The goal of media relations is to maximize positive coverage in the mass media without paying for it directly through advertising. Many people use the terms public relations and media relations interchangeably; however, doing so is incorrect. Media relations refer to the relationship that a company or organization develops with journalists, while public relations extend that relationship beyond the media to the general public.
Since Toddy1 has suggested we consider this, I will retract what I said earlier and will discuss this. I think there needs to be another word instead of "media relations". Who is the media here? Who is representing "the media"? Who has relationships with the "media"? I see what Veriss has done with mirroring the form of First Lady Michelle Obama's page, but I don't like the term "media relations" because it seems like someone is handling/coordinating the media in its portrayal. Maybe we can make a separate section for "Portrayal by the Media" or something like that. Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 11:14, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

Regarding the Veriss' proposed section. Only the first paragraph deals with the period before the civil war. The other six paragraphs deal with what Mrs Assad has done since the civil war started, and how people have reacted to it. If a heading or subheading along the lines of Mrs Assad during the Syrian Civil War were put in front of the second paragraph, it would describe it very well, and approximates to what I had in mind when I proposed that in the discussion on the Vogue article.

Of course, there are matters of detail to be fixed in the paragraphs - but I am sure we can go through them, fixing the problems.--Toddy1 (talk) 16:38, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

I removed "media relations" from the main heading and inserted a proposed short subheading for the war period after the first paragraph per the suggestions above. I left the first paragraph because there is ample material available to flesh out the public image and style discussion such as this article about the 7 Most Beautiful First Ladies that I stumbled on recently. Presumably there will be a period of time after the war in the future. I agree Toddy1 that there are things that need attention within the proposed section. For example, Etoiles pointed out earlier that the last sentence of the initial paragraph no longer makes sense; I think it may have been mangled during other edits but we can sort that out soon.
It seemed that the one point of agreement we had was that the Buck incident did not merit it's own section so I thought it would help if we found a proper home for it so that we can add material and keep everything balanced and in context. Regards, V
(Edit) I didn't want to tinker with the proposal too much all at once and tried to restrict my changes to suggestions that had been discussed. I did notice that the Vogue mention is out of chronological order, however, to put it in sequence would make it the lead paragraph which I don't think is what we want. Veriss (talk) 21:11, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
If other people think this approach might work, the next step would be to discuss each paragraph separately, so that facts are put in context. YOu can see the kind of thing I mean at Talk:Salafi movement/Archive 3#Blatant POV, where we discussed various deletions that an editor wanted to make.--Toddy1 (talk) 21:58, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm in favor of whatever you suggest, Toddy1. Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 00:25, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
@Toddy1. Your suggestion makes a lot of sense. When I started this new thread though I had a longer term confidence building strategy in mind that called for building consensus on minor issues and working up from there. The previous discussions were pretty volatile but it appears that we are now making progress and I thank you for your contributions in that regard. Even though these are baby steps, I ask everyone to be patient. Soon we will be addressing the bigger (scarier?) steps. (Bbb23 recently had a tragedy in his family so may not be present as much as he would like to be. I know he won't mind if we keep driving on.) Veriss (talk) 08:32, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
Any progress is good even if it's just baby steps at first. Looking more closely at the structure of the current article and comparing it more carefully to Mrs. Obama's article, I would like to propose several more small confidence building steps.
  • Remove the main heading "Biography" as unneeded.
  • Promote the sub-headings "Early life and education", "Brief finance career", and "First Lady" to main headings. (note: I'm not allergic to serial commas when they are helpful for clarity or precision.)
  • Rename the heading "First Lady" to "First Lady of Syria" which I believe is her proper title and more closely follows Mrs. Obama's example.
  • Keep "Style and public image" and "Syrian Civil War" as sub-headings under the "First Lady of Syria" main heading.
Please comment and offer suggestions. If we can agree on these minor tweaks to the structure, I can update our working copy and then I have some larger proposals to make. To save time, if you support these small steps, please also give your consent to making these changes to the live article as well. Of course, if not everyone agrees or anyone wants to do something different, then I won't make any changes live. Regards, V Veriss (talk) 03:02, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
Veriss, you really need to stop being so dramatic. Please refrain from your over-dramatized descriptions of our discussions. Volatile? Pahhhleeaaaaase. This is shocking coming from someone who describes himself as a [former?] Marine. Hate to say it, but man up. It really is not that serious. Honestly. Your dramatization and commentary on the "vitriol", "volatile", and whatever else you use to describe the discussions on this talk page is getting really old and frankly, pathetic. In regards to serial commas: come on now. There are grammatical rules for a reason. Helpful for clarity and precision? I mean, the rules are there for a reason. Obviously, when I incorporated the serial comma in the article, you felt it was "excessive punctuation". Well, it isn't. Just follow the rules of grammar, as your idea of "clarity and precision" is not in-line with the rules of the serial comma.
Finally, I don't have a problem with your proposed tweaks to the structure. HOWEVER, I would like to wait to hear from FormerIP and Toddy1 on your suggestions. Furthermore, I would prefer for these changes to be implemented into the article by not you, but either of our two new editors, so that they can start actively working on the article that has for so long been monopolized by you and Bbb23. It would be refreshing (and perhaps motivating) to other editors to see that there are other names, other than your own and Bbb23, working on the improvement of this article. Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 11:24, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
Thank you E for your consent to the tweaks to the structure of the article. With the structure of the sections settled, it should be easier to address specific topics. I plan to wait until late Wednesday night for more feedback, unless others reply sooner, and then will make more proposals. I think the next one up will be sorting out the issues that you pointed out earlier in in the first paragraph of our working copy since there appear to be mangled sentences and possibly misplaced cites. As I said before, I think I found the missing cites and have a few more about her style and image to help update that section. I'm not a fashion person so hoping people can help find more recent sources in that area. Regards, Veriss (talk) 05:17, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
You're welcome, "V". It would have been nice to have had these changes implemented sooner, but hence the importance for "fresh new eyes". I sincerely hope FormerIP will chime in as well. Personally, I find it sad that consorts/first ladies/etc have so much focus on their fashion/style. Is the same done for male public figures? Nope. We live in such an objectifying society. Nevertheless, as I mentioned earlier, I did visit the page for First Lady Michelle Obama and I liked the way they structured her page. Good job with your suggestions of bringing some of that here. Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 05:32, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
I originally wanted to use Queen Rania of Jordan's article as an example to work from since they are both noted for their style and are from the same region, but so much of Queen Rania's article is devoted to her outreach and communications, while the Assad administration has been so closed, that it would be very difficult to build Mrs. Assad's article in the same way. I thought the safest option was Mrs. Obama's article, who is also noted for her style, since it has so many eyes on it. I agree, as long as the guy's socks match, his shoes are shined and his tie doesn't clash with his shirt and suit, he's good to go and gets a pass from the media. :) I intend to start a new section to discuss her "style and public image" section when we get there. I think we should work through each section and get those sorted before we look at the article's lede when we can tackle redundancy concerns and be sure everything is properly sourced and cited. I actually have a plan and am not just kicking the can down the road. Looking forward to your input and fresh eyeballs. Regards, V Veriss (talk) 06:38, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
True, true, the Queen Rania of Jordan's has a lot going on in that article. I think it was a very sound decision to go with mirroring the FLOTUS' article. :) I'm looking forward to tackling and fleshing. Game play on. Hopefully our other editors chime in soon. Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 06:56, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
After taking a look, I agree that using the FOTUS as a model is a good idea. That way things get some coverage but they don't go overboard. WhisperToMe (talk) 17:47, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
Alrighty, looking for more feedback so we can move on and possibly pick up the pace. Thank you for the input so far. V Veriss (talk) 06:11, 11 December 2013 (UTC)
E, looks there aren't any other comments so feel free to make the agreed changes if you like. V Veriss (talk) 04:16, 12 December 2013 (UTC)
"V", I think it would serve this article better to have another editor, such as Toddy1, FormerIP, or WhisperToMe (welcome) to implement these changes. I would like for our new editors to get their feet wet and make their mark on this article as it goes through its new transformation. :) Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 07:59, 12 December 2013 (UTC)
In my opinion, it needs to be discussed on a paragraph by paragraph basis before it is ready.--Toddy1 (talk) 08:27, 12 December 2013 (UTC)
The proposal under discussion though was the restructuring of the sections. It was proposed that the details of each paragraph would be sorted later once the sections were organized. What are your opinions on the restructuring concerns so we can move on to dealing with each paragraph next? Regards, V Veriss (talk) 10:17, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
I already answered the question what I thought of the restructuring in my reply on 21:58, 8 December 2013 (see above). My understanding was that Les Etoiles de Ma Vie was suggesting that the restructured version be pasted into the article, and in my post of 08:27, 12 December 2013, I restated the view I had earlier expressed at 21:58, 8 December 2013 that we need to have a paragraph-by-paragraph discussion before we post the section into the article. (Sorry if I did not make that clear.) I have been expecting all week for someone to start a paragraph-by-paragraph discussion, but it has not happened yet. I am not really sure why not.--Toddy1 (talk) 09:43, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
I haven't left, just FYI. :) I'm waiting with the hopes that we get more editors to voice their opinions. This should come at no surprise, but I am of support in whatever Toddy1 suggests, but I recognize the efforts you have put forth, Veriss. Let's wait until after the holiday festivities (after we ring in 2014) before we proceed in improving this article. That is, unless other editors pop in before then. If there are no objections, we will look at the section--paragraph-by-pragraph--as Toddy1 has suggested at that time, and we can also implement the section heading/subheading changes at that time as well. Merry Christmas to all, to you and yours. Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 06:03, 24 December 2013 (UTC)
I had proposed that we fix the structure and then work on individual paragraphs. We appear to have settled on the structure improvements so I don't see the value to delay pasting them in and then starting a new task of improving each paragraph. I would like to see each step that we have consensus about implemented as they are agreed to so that they aren't held up by possible disagreements on later steps. Like E, I was curious to see if other editors would join the discussion but there appears to be little interest. Why wait? V Veriss (talk) 21:27, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
I thought Toddy had suggested earlier to start a paragraph-by-paragraph discussion? If I'm misunderstanding what's been said, feel free to implement the structure improvements. :) Happy New Year, everyone! Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 05:02, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
It's no surprise to me that this article has remained the way it has for as long as it has. It's "quiet" because there is a serious lack of editors who actually have interest in this article. The only two consistent and dominant editors appear to be Bbb23 and Veriss1. It's such a shame because this article needs a whole lot of work but the complacency of the mediocre work is prevalent because there simply is no fresh eyes who are willing to work on this article. The occasional editor that does come in, like FormerIP, are treated like second-class citizens. Shame. Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 23:02, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
I'm still watching the article, waiting for constructive responses to my proposals and a clear consensus to move forward. I think I have treated everyone respectfully throughout. If people have concerns, they need to put their big boy or girl pants on and speak up. My proposal has been lingering for over a month. If someone else has a better idea then my approach, they should step up, start a discussion, present a plan of action and make stuff happen. If not, then I will proceed with my approach. (On a personal note, I have an over-full work schedule lately so have even less patience then before for bullshit and drama - please stay professional and keep discussions mature and respectful.) Let's make stuff happen. Veriss (talk) 04:39, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
I think we are all watching and waiting for input. But how on earth can we have any kind of consensus when there are only three of us? And really, drama and the other obscenity you mentioned are relative to the individual. Frankly, I think it is unprofessional, immature, and dramatic for you to even mention your personal life. You probably don't feel that way. Such perception is based upon the individual. We all have personal lives, I assure you. I will continue to patiently wait for input from outside editors. To make changes between the three of us is simply not optimal. Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 20:03, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
Three of "who"? I only see you and I active. We don't need 'optimal', we only need 'serviceable' to get the job done. My current plan, absent any other constructive suggestions, is to make the agreed structural tweaks very soon and then start fixing individual paragraphs. Veriss (talk) 04:25, 25 January 2014 (UTC)
Les Etoiles de Ma Vie - please can you make comments or amendment proposals on the suggested paragraphs in the structure below. If there are paragraphs that you have no comments on by this time next week, I will assume that you agree with those particular paragraphs.--Toddy1 (talk) 16:10, 25 January 2014 (UTC)
Happy New Year, Toddy1! I'm a little confused. Are you suggesting that we examine the suggested paragraphs, paragraph by paragraph? Because if you read just a few comments earlier, I thought Veriss1 did not want to look at the material yet and work on the overall structure? Thanks. Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 17:29, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

Style and public image - Paragraph by paragraph discussion[edit]

She was described by analysts and in media as an important part of the public relations effort of the Syrian government early in her tenure as first lady and she was credited with taking progressive positions on women's rights and education.[1][2][3] The United Nations Development Program, UNDP, spent US$ 18 million to help organise a complex set of reform initiatives showing the Syrian government was working toward a more modern and progressive form of government. A key part of the program was helping to create "a reformer’s aura" for Asma al-Assad, highlighting her participation in anti-poverty and social programs and her role as founder and chair of a national umbrella charity called the Syrian Trust for Development until the program was suspended as the country descended into civil war.[4][5]Additionally, her stylish designer outfits garnered media attention including fashion slideshows on The Huffington Post and Elle.[2][6][7] As a Sunni Muslim by birth, Asma al-Assad's leading role was also important for the view of the Syrian government and president, an Alawite, among the Sunni majority of Syria.[8][citation needed]
  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference Bennet was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ a b Agence France-Presse (14 January 2012). "Syria's First Lady Asma al-Assad Falling from Grace". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 14 February 2012. ([3])
  3. ^ "Will Asma al-Assad take a stand or stand by her man?". Edition.cnn.com. 25 December 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  4. ^ George Russell (20 September 2012). "Before Assad unleashed violence, UN showcased wife Asma as a 'champion' of reform". FoxNews. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  5. ^ George Russel (8 October 2012). "UN-sponsored group in Syria included Assad kin cited as corrupt by US, documents show". FoxNews. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  6. ^ "Asma Al Assad: Syria's First Lady And All-Natural Beauty (SLIDESHOW)". The Huffington Post. 15 March 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "Best Dressed 2008: Women of State". Elle(French). December 2008. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  8. ^ Cite error: The named reference desert_rose was invoked but never defined (see the help page).

Syrian Civil War - Paragraph by paragraph discussion[edit]

1st paragraph[edit]

A serious blow was dealt to her public image since the Syrian civil war[1] intensified in early 2012 amid reports of her extravagant personal shopping.[2] A new picture emerged in western media "of a woman closer in spirit to Imelda Marcos than the moderating counselor to her husband's excesses that she was once seen as being".[3] The Daily Telegraph reported that in January 2012, despite worldwide condemnation of her husband's regime, she appeared with him and two of their children at a pro-regime rally.[4]
  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference desert_rose was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference AFP was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ "Syrian first lady's caring image unlikely to recover", The Independent, 16 March 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2012
  4. ^ "Syria's First Lady Asma al-Assad breaks her silence". The Telegraph. 7 February 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 

2nd paragraph[edit]

The first lady was criticized for remaining silent throughout the beginning of the Syrian uprising.[1] She issued her first official statement to international media since the insurrection began in February 2012, nearly a year after the first serious protests.[2][3][4] She sent an e-mail to The Times stating: "The President is the President of Syria, not a faction of Syrians, and the first lady supports him in that role." The communique also described her continued support for charities and rural development activities.[5] Also in early February, she sent an email to the The Times declaring her support for her husband and related that she "comforts" the "victims of the violence".[6][7]
  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference desert_rose was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference AFP was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ "Asma al-Assad, the glamorous face of Syria's dictatorship". National Post. 13 January 2012. Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  4. ^ Fletcher, Martin (30 January 2012). "Has Syria's Princess Diana become its Marie Antoinette?". The Australian. The Times. 
  5. ^ Agence France-Presse (8 February 2012). "First lady breaks silence to support President Assad". The Age. 
  6. ^ Cite error: The named reference Tele was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  7. ^ "Asma al-Assad and the tricky role of the autocrat's wife". BBC. 8 February 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 

3rd paragraph[edit]

On 23 March 2012, the European Union froze her assets and placed a travel ban on her and President Assad's other close family members as part of escalating sanctions against the Syrian government.[1][2] Asma al-Assad herself remains able to travel to the UK because of herBritish nationality but she is barred from entering the rest of the EU.[3]
  1. ^ "Syria crisis: EU to put sanctions on Asma al-Assad". BBC News. 23 March 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2012. [4]
  2. ^ Council Implementing Decision 2012/172/CFSP of 23 March 2012 implementing Decision 2011/782/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Syria 24 March 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  3. ^ "Assad's relatives face asset freeze and travel ban as EU steps up sanctions". The Guardian. 23 March 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 

4th paragraph[edit]

On 16 April 2012, Huberta von Voss Wittig and Sheila Lyall Grant, the wives of the German and British ambassadors to the United Nations, released a four-minute video asking Asma al-Assad to stand up for peace and urge her husband to end the bloodshed in her country.[1][2]
  1. ^ "UN ambassador wives in peace plea to Syria's Asma Assad". BBC News. 16 April 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2012. 
  2. ^ International letter and petition to Asma al-Assad (Youtube video by Huberta von Voss Wittig and Sheila Lyall Grant, 16 April 2012)

5th paragraph[edit]

She had not been seen in public regularly since the July 2012 bombing of the Military Intelligence Directorate that took place in Damascus, leading to press speculation and government denials that she had fled the country or the capital city of Damascus.[1][2] She made a public appearance at the Damascus Opera House for an event called "Mother's Rally" on March 18, 2013, refuting the rumors.[3][4] She made another public appearance in October 2013 and further dispelled the rumors of her fleeing the country by saying "I was here yesterday, I'm here today and I will be here tomorrow."[5]
  1. ^ "Hunt for Assad is on amid claims of wife Asma's exit to Russia". The Independent (London, UK). 20 July 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  2. ^ "Free Syrian Army move HQ from Turkey to Syria". France 24. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  3. ^ Syria: Asma al-Assad makes rare public appearance
  4. ^ Surrounded by children, Syria's first lady makes rare appearance
  5. ^ "Asma al-Assad denies leaving Syria". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 30 Nov 2013. 

Les Etoiles de Ma Vie has a good point at Talk:Asma al-Assad#Sources. The sources used above said that she "rarely" appears in public. But the Syrian Presidency's Instagram site shows quite a few appearances in public in recent months. Now this may be in response to such criticism in the media in her native England. Or maybe her public appearances have not been so rare. It suggests that this paragraph needs reworking to make it clearer exactly what is being claimed, and with some links to particular captioned photos on the Syrian Presidency's Instagram site with some sort of statement that the Syrian Presidency has published photos of her at public events on specified dates. I think we need to be cautious; the captions of the photos showing her in an apparently small room for Mother's Day or planting a a small bush in a garden are not evidence of public appearances.--Toddy1 (talk) 22:18, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

6th paragraph[edit]

In March 2011, Vogue published a flattering profile of the first lady titled "A Rose in the Desert" authored by veteran fashion writer Joan Juliet Buck. The article was later removed from Vogue's website without editorial comment that spring.[1][2][3]Responding to media inquiries about the disappearance of Assad's profile, Vogue’s editor stated that "as the terrible events of the past year and a half unfolded in Syria, it became clear that [Syria's] priorities and values were completely at odds with those of Vogue".[4] After strong public and media reaction to the article, Buck's contract was not renewed with Vogue although she had been employed by the magazine for over 30 years and had been an editor of French Vogue for seven years.[5] The New York Times later reported that the piece was intended as part of a larger Syrian government-sponsored image campaign coordinated by the public relations firm Brown Lloyd James.[4][6] Buck has since written another article for Newsweek giving an extremely critical account of Asma al-Assad, concluding that she is the "first lady of hell".[5] Separately, Buck's original profile of Assad was satirized in The Philadelphia Inquirer.[7]
  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference desert_rose was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Cook, John (28 February 2011). "Vogue Defends Profile of Syrian First Lady". The Atlantic. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  3. ^ Cook, John (20 May 2011). "Memory Hole: Vogue Disappears Adoring Profile of Syrian Butcher's Wife". Gawker. Retrieved 18 June 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Allen, Nick (11 June 2012). "Syria: Vogue's Anna Wintour disowns Asma al-Assad". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 June 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Syria's Fake First Family". The Daily Beast. 30 July 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "Syria's Assads Turned to West For Glossy P.R.". The New York Times. 10 June 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "The Puff Piece and Its Perils". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 6 April 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 

Sources[edit]

I have a problem with the balance of this article as many of the sources have certain political leanings. Obviously the perception and coverage given is going to have a certain leaning depending on the source. The spin on coverage of any particular event or person is going to be different depending on the news agency. For example, Fox News vs. CNN, The Telegraph vs. The Guardian, etc. The article as it stands, alleges that the article subject does not make frequent public appearances. However, the Instagram account of her husband or "the presidency" (http://instagram.com/syrianpresidency) suggests otherwise. The article subject, according to photos posted on the account, is making appearances and made an appearance last week. I think what gets covered by western media tends to be whatever they feel like reporting on and because we depend on those western sources to cite this article, it then dramatically shapes the nature of the entire article. We need some Arabic readers/speakers who can provide non-western perspectives.Les Etoiles de Ma Vie (talk) 18:14, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

Simple solution: Find and present articles sympathetic to her and I will support including them for balance. It is easy to critique and pontificate but can one also do research and provide the goods? Veriss (talk) 06:29, 5 October 2014 (UTC)

Went ahead with approved section merger[edit]

There was a detailed discussion and consensus on restructuring the First Lady section to more closely follow Mrs. Obama's article at the time. The discussion broke down but there was consensus on the structure. Since no further progress has been made beyond the agreement of how it should be structured, I went ahead and implemented what was agreed up to that point in the interest of stimulating additional contributions and presenting a slightly improved article layout. The section restructuring also required some minor image relocations. Veriss (talk) 05:00, 22 October 2014 (UTC)