A Jordanian delegation, which visited Syrian President Bashar al Assad on Monday, came under sharp criticism after it handed the president an abaya (a traditional piece of clothing) that it described as the “Pan-Arabism abaya.”
According to the Syrian Arab News Agency, the delegation consisted of activists, politicians and lawyers.
Secretary General of the Jordanian Bar Association, Samih Khurais, requested Assad wear the abaya saying: “this abaya is worn by the tribe’s leader…the nation’s leader…It is worn by the pathfinder who is sincere towards his people.”
“Bashar al Assad is the pathfinder of the Sham countries…This is why the people in Jordan gave me this abaya (as a gift for you) to tell (you) that we are with you (all the way).”
A video showing Assad smiling while wearing the abaya went viral via social networking websites, sparking criticism of the delegation’s visit to the president who has been confronting a popular uprising since March 2011.
Thousands of people commented on the video condemning the delegation’s visit to Assad and voicing surprise that the president is smiling at a time when his country is witnessing armed clashes that killed and displaced thousands.
On the social networking website Twitter, one user tweeted: “we will not forget the Jordanians who (gave) Assad this Arabism abaya (to wear). We will record their names as inciters…to kill Syrians.”
Another wrote: “according to the fools of Jordan’s nationalists, Arabism is a piece of cloth called “abaya” used to cover the defectiveness of a criminal.”
A Jordanian man also condemned the delegation’s act tweeting: “I did not entrust anyone (to hand Assad an abaya!)”
Meanwhile, on The Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page, hundreds of users commented. One said: “these dogs do not represent the Jordanian people. They (only) represent themselves,” while another wrote: “so if he wears this (abaya), does he become the hero of Arabism?”
So as the violence continues on the ground in Syria, the death toll in the country is “probably now approaching 70,000”, according to the U.N. Human Rights chief Navi Pillay.