No wonder Bashar al-Assad speaks such good English.
His wife, Asma Akhras, was born on August 11, 1975, in London to Fawaz Akhras, a consultant cardiologist at the Cromwell Hospital, London, and his wife Sahar Akhras (née Otri), a retired diplomat. Her parents are Sunni Muslims and of Syrian origin, hailing from the city of Homs. She grew up in Acton where she went to a local Church of England school and her friends called her Emma, before moving on to a private girls’ school, Queen’s College. She graduated from King’s College London in 1996 with a first-class bachelor of science degree in computer science and a diploma in French literature.
Asma Akhras met Bashar al-Assad, while he was studying ophthalmology in London.
They have three children: Hafez, Zein and Karim.
On March 23, 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. Asma al-Assad herself remains able to travel to the UK because of her British nationality but she is barred from entering the rest of the EU.
On April 16, 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.
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. She made a public appearance at the Damascus Opera House for an event called “Mother’s Rally” on March 18, 2013, refuting the rumours.