Nevermind the Civil Unrest, What Is Gaddafi’s Wife Wearing?

By now you may have heard about a little popular uprising in Egypt that forced Hosni Mubarak to resign from his decades long post as president. That was sparked by a successful uprising in Tunisia, where protesters frustrated with social and economic conditions that hadn’t changed under their decades old leader, forced him to flee the country. Those two things have kicked off protests and uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East, most recently in Libya. There, protesters have reportedly met with violence when trying to protest against the 42-year-old rule of Muammar al-Gaddafi.

There have been concerns about stability in the region, how it will affect oil prices, and oh, yeah, all of the Libyan people being killed by mercenaries. Forget all that though, let’s ask the important questions: what does Gaddafi’s wife wear? How does she travel around Tripoli? How chic is life in the Gaddafi family home?

Forget the repression, where did she get that beautiful scarf? Screenshot via Gawker

In what has to be one of the most tone-deaf pieces to come out since Kenneth Cole’s Egyptian fire sale tweets, Vogue posed these questions in a hard-hitting piece that profiled Asma al-Assad, the “glamorous, young, and very chic—the freshest and most magnetic” first lady of Syria.

It glosses over Syria’s “deep and dark” shadow zones to tout its reputation as the safest country in the Middle East. Which ignores the question, safe for who?

According to Human Rights Watch {via Gawker}, President Bashar al-Asad’s decade in power (he inherited the position from his father) hasn’t produced many reforms. Prisons are “filled again with political prisoners, journalists, and human rights activists. In the most recent examples, Syrian criminal courts in the last three weeks separately sentenced two of Syria’s leading human rights lawyers, Haytham al-Maleh, 78, and Muhanad al-Hasani, 42, to three years in jail each for their criticisms of Syria’s human rights record.”

Among other things, let’s put together a few handy bullet points of freedoms that most Syrians don’t enjoy:

  • Open access to the internet: Facebook, YouTube and Blogger are banned
  • Freedom of assembly: According to Human Rights Watch “Official repression of Kurds increased further after Syrian Kurds held large-scale demonstrations, some of which turned violent, throughout northern Syria in March 2004 to voice long-simmering grievances.”
  • An open legal system: “Syria’s security agencies, the feared mukhabarat, detain people without arrest warrants and torture with complete impunity.”

If you’ve been following along with recent events, many of these things were on the list of grievances that inspired popular uprisings and protests in many other countries.

It’s not that we believe the first lady isn’t capable of doing good things through her NGO work – Suzanne Mubarak, former first lady of Egypt campaigned against human trafficking; but if recent history has shown anything it’s that wide scale grievances, particularly those related to human rights, aren’t placated by small balancing acts. Mrs. Mubarak’s campaign against human trafficking is an important one, and probably made a difference in the lives of some people. Unfortunately the Egyptians who forced her husband to step down had more pressing issues of government corruption, repression of humans rights and violence from police.

We haven’t heard about any uprisings in Syria – yet, but somehow, a lifestyle piece highlighting how the other half live in a country where residents face kidnappings, jail and torture under a repressive regime seems so deeply careless given recent events. What’s next? Beauty tips on how to cover up facial bruising from Hannibal Gaddafi’s wife? Luxury living tips from Mrs. Robert Mugabe? The fashion personalities of Kim Jong-Il’s various wives? Cooking tips and recipes from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s wife? We could excuse a print article as a matter of poor timing, given that most magazine content is produced 3 months in advance, but the reason people read websites is because they can catch up to current events a bit quicker. Just an FYI for the Voguettes who may still not “get” the interwebs, and why copying print content over doesn’t always work.

If Vogue wants to be known as the thinking woman’s journal on fashion, let us offer a reminder to give a tad more consideration to the “thinking” part.






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