According to Assad’s Instagram, It’s All Smiles in Syria

Syria's embattled leader is using social media to broadcast his vision of the country to the world

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The carnage and chaos out of Syria for the past two and a half years has been unmistakable: the country has descended into civil war, marked by horrific scenes of death and devastation. But scrolling through the official Instagram account of Syrian President Bashar Assad, the turmoil seems to evaporate. The feed, updated several times a week, offers a distinctly different view of the internationally reviled ruling family: smiles, handshakes, doting supporters. It’s a world miles away from the one seen in headlines and news photographs published daily.

Bashar Assad is front-and-center in a majority of the photos, shown going about his daily business in meeting with foreign dignitaries, military officials and at rallies. His wife Asma, the first lady of Syria who was once described by Vogue as “a rose in the desert,” also features prominently in many of the images. She offers presents to children, comforts the elderly, and serves food to “displaced families” (one of the few visible hints of the nation’s inner turmoil).

The comments sections that accompany the photos, posted by many of the account’s 36,000 followers, have been flooded with both blessings and hate for the ruling family, alternately branding Assad a “murdering man” and a “benevolent humble leader.” Messages noting “We will always support you” are closely followed by ones warning him: “u can’t hide from the long arm of justice.”–Nick Carbone

Captions accompanying the photographs were translated from Arabic and edited.

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