Writer of embarrassing Vogue article that praised wife of Syrian dictator confesses ‘horror’ at having been near them
10:44 EST, 26 April 2012
01:48 EST, 27 April 2012
When writer Joan Juliet Buck embarked on her feature piece about Asma al-Assad for Vogue, she did so with the intention of describing a chic, educated and glamourous First Lady, one who the magazine had long been trying to chase down for an interview.
But when the article coincided so hauntingly with the beginning of the President’s despotic crackdown on his people, it was quickly pulled from the magazine’s website while Mrs al-Assad’s character and her role within the regime became a shadowy question mark.
Now Ms Buck has expressed regret that she was ever exposed to the Assads and despite coming under fire for having penned such a glowing review of the First Lady, says she was horrified by what she saw during her time there.
Loyal? Asma al-Assad, the wife of Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, has been called upon to help stop ‘being a bystander’ to her husband’s violence, a year after a glowing article about her was pulled from Vogue’s website
In an interview with NPR, the former French Vogue Editor defended herself for the article entitled ‘A Rose in the Desert’ that was published in the March 2011 edition of Vogue before suddenly vanishing from the internet.
Asked whether that was not in fact her headline she responded: ‘Of course not. No.’
The article, that according to The Washington Post described the Assads as ‘wildly democratic’, portrayed a progressive, intelligent, secular family who embraced all things American and cared for the safety of their people, disappeared from the web weeks after it came out.
A rose in the desert? Vogue’s Joan Juliet Buck wrote a gushing feature about the Syrian First Lady that was published just as the president began his brutal crackdown, and weeks later the article vanished from the web
Oops! The page that appears if you try and search the controversial article on Vogue’s website now
These days, a search for the story will direct you to a page holder that reads: ‘Oops. The page you’re looking for can not be found.’
That Ms Buck chose to detail Mrs Assad, a British-born ex-banker, as ‘glamorous, young, and very chic – the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies… a thin, long-limbed beauty with a trained analytic mind,’ is indeed unfortunate given the atrocities committed by her husband’s regime over the last year.
Last week, this apparently ‘breezy, conspiratorial, and fun,’ woman was called upon by the wives of the British and German Ambassadors to the United Nations by way of a videoed missive, to help end the violence in Syria.
The video juxtaposes glamourous images of the fashionable Asma al-Assad to heartbreaking footage of Syrian women whose families are brutally killed everyday in her country and asks: ‘What happened to you, Asma?’
The question most likely refers to what was described in Ms Buck’s article as Mrs Assad’s ‘central mission’ to ‘change the mind-set of six million Syrians under eighteen, encourage them to engage in what she calls “active citizenship.”‘
So proud: The Syrian First Lady smiles while listening to a speech by her husband just this past January, despite over 9000 people having been killed by his regime
Glamour: Ms Buck wrote about Asma al-Assad as chic, intelligent, fun and breezy and called the couple ‘wildly democratic’, an image that has troubled and outraged many
But shining the spotlight on the First Lady’s lack of response to her country’s abhorrent situation once again highlights the disparity between Ms Buck’s portrayal and the current reality.
It also perhaps brings up questions that only she can answer given that she is one of few journalists who have spoken firsthand with Asma al-Assad.
Although over the past year, roughly 9000 Syrians have been killed at the hand of Bashar al-Assad’s troops, the writer confessed her doubts that the video will have any impact on the First Lady’s conscience.
‘One of the most affecting things in the last couple of months is the communications that she got from the young woman from the ruling family in Qatar who said: “For the sake of your children, leave now.” And she refused to even answer the woman,’ Ms Buck lamented.
‘You know, they are pretending that nothing is happening there. It’s disgusting. Is a little video going to make a difference? No.’
Probed as to her feelings now about the story she originally wrote, her thoughts barely reflect the praise with which she showered upon her subject whose husband Barbara Walters referred to as ‘a dictator by accident, a mild-manner ophthalmologist.’
In vogue: The Mach 2011 of the fashion glossy in which the scrubbed article written by Joan Juliet Buck (right) appeared
‘Asma Assad called the ancient culture of the country its hardware,’ she admitted. ‘She speaks like a banker with a degree in computer science. She said what interested her were the people. They were the software.
‘The software has been getting killed every day for 13 months by her husband’s forces, and they’re pretending nothing is happening.
‘It is horrifying to have been near people like that.’
She also implied that the Assad children were not the same ones that appeared in the final article and that they were most likely posing in their place for security purposes.
One person who does not agree with Ms Buck’s recent condemnation however is Mohamed Abdo al-Ibrahim who hosts the only website to have retained a copy of the web version of the article.
PresidentAssad.net is a fan page to the Syrian dictator.
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