After the death of Hafez Al Assad, who ruled Syria between 1970 and 2000. His son, young Bashar Al-Assad, succeeded to power at 34 years of age. He presented himself as a modern, modest and progressive leader. Thus he was expected to bring change to a totalitarian socialist system. The change started at the surface. Billboards in Damascus read:“modernization and development”. Indeed, the first year of the millennium was marked by the infamous “Damascus spring” movement. Political and economic issues were being discussed publicly in forums around the city. However, the spring was short. The political authority soon restrained the freedom of expression again by arrests and closing the forums under the pretext that political reform comes after economic and administrative reform. By the end of president Assad’s first term, in 2007, most opposition figures had been imprisoned, exiled or politically paralyzed. The new slogan in Damascus was “we love you” accompanied with the portrait of the president. As the image of an individual overran public spaces, the grip of the authorities tightened. As if the soul of Hafez Al Assad had returned and was embodied in a contemporary visual element, produced by the government, then embraced and regenerated by the people.
Signs originally reads: "national decision is higher than and internation decision". But with the person's head is reads: "The decision is his". Referendum campaign, Damascus, 2007.
This massive billboards occupies a large portion of a historic wall. Damascus 2007.
Sign reads: "together for modernization and development". Damascus, 2008.
L: Amara, Old Damascus 2010. R: Arnous square, 2007.
Back of a taxi car, Damascus 2010.
Closed to participate in a pro regime march, just outside of his store were many people chanting for the president. Damascus, 2007.
He is somewhere here, he is everywhere. Damascus 2010.
The hand of the father Assad, his spirit still roams the city. Damasucs 2007.