Italian models claim they were paid for pro-Assad demo

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Sixteen Italian models were allegedly hired to participate in a fake demonstration, in Rome, in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to The Times.

The pro-government sit-in took place in Rome’s Santi Apostoli square, on November 22, 2011, as the civil war in Syria was intensifying.

The models, who were allegedly promised €166 each, have begun legal action against the agency that employed them, as they claim to have not been paid for their work.

The lawsuit intends to show that the sit-in was false and highlights that the models were promised money to carry the Syrian flag and chant slogans supporting Assad in Arabic, without even understanding what they meant, according to the model’s lawyer, Valerio Vitale.

He states that the agency, which hired the young women, was practicing “political exploitation.”

One model quoted the agency’s manager, reportedly a Muslim Italian, as stressing that no one should know of the paychecks they were promised to receive.

“The head of the agency said that no one should know that we were getting money to take part in the demonstration,” she stated, reported The Times.

According to the models, the agency had also agreed to have them participate in various other Middle Eastern related events held in Rome, which Arab businessmen would attend.

The Times reported that the women were also hired to “socialize and dance” with Middle Eastern customers at discos, and that they were being offered double pay to take part in the demonstration.

According to the newspaper, this is not the first incident in which Italian models have been hired to take part in such public events. Former Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi reportedly paid a group of women to participate in a religious meeting in which he urged them to convert to Islam.