Acton's Syrian Connection

Families sharing the same street but tensions rising


BBC Profile of Asma Assad

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Correspondence from Asma al-Assad - the Acton-born wife ( (and former Twyford pupil) of Syria’s president has shown her to be highly supportive of her husband with apparently no misgivings about his brutal regime.

Asma Assad, 36, grew up in Acton where she was known as Emma. She is the daughter of consultant cardiologist Fawaz Akhras and retired diplomat Sahar Otri. She married Mr Assad in late 2000,

Asma, holds dual citizenship, British and Syrian and was educated at Twyford school before attending a private girls’ day school - Queen’s College, Harley Street.

A tranche of 3,000 emails from the private accounts of Asma and her husband Bashar al-Assad were passed by opposition activists to The Daily Telegraph and other media outlets.

According to reports in the newspaper Mrs Assad's e-mails have shown no criticism about the violent crackdown, which has accounted for around 8,000 lives lost.

Mrs Assad, as well as her husband's mother, sister and sister-in-law,have been banned from travelling to EU countries but under Home Office guidelines - as a British passport holder - she would be allowed back intro Britain if she so wished.

Various reporters from the national newspapers have been in Acton recently finding what is happening within the local community.

Dr Fawaz Akhras, Asma's father, still lives in W3. He has always maintained he is a non-political figure - but, according to reports has been advising his son-in law.

Last year his house was reportedly attacked by opposition protesters.

Today, The Independent reports on how Syria's war is hitting the Acton street where he lives.

They say tensions are rising in the road after expat, Malik al-Abdeh, who lives opposite Dr Akhras, lost his cousin in the conflict.

Mr Al-Abdeh told the newspaper: ''"Before the revolution, things were pretty normal. I used to say hello when he was parking his car.." 

Since the troubles began the mood in the area has changed and he claimed there was now a lot of animosity toward the Akhras family.

The Independent says Acton is home to Britain 's largest Arab community; some 16,000 people originate from the Middle East or North Africa , many of them Syrians.



19th March 2012



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