The sight of his face used to make my stomach turn – the drug-induced crazy in his eyes, his sweaty, untamed hair and flambouant clothing – all clearly announced his maddness. Muammar Gaddafi was evil – a self-obsessed, murderous freak – and it wasn’t a secret. Even if you knew nothing, to see him told you so – he was a duck quacking, as ducks do – intellectually you would get the message.
My reaction when I see the face of Bashaar al-Assad, on the other hand, is an entirely and powerfully visceral one. I feel his evil. My breathing gets shallow and the muscles in my body tighten up – as if I’m in danger or may need to sprint away at any moment. A well groomed medical doctor in a suit and tie, whose voice never raises and whose face bears no visible sign of stress or guilt – even while being interviewed concerning details of his merciless torturing and killing of his countrymen, women and children. No, intellect won’t help you here, as it would be nearly impossible to connect that picture of a man to the horrendous events being carried out at his behest.
Paul Conroy, a photojournalist who covers wars, just days ago narrowly escaped along with the last who will, from the now completely Syrian government controlled city of Baba Amr. He characterized the scene as a “medieval-style slaughter”, and admits that as he left, the remaining citizens were starting to accept their fate…soon Bashaar’s militia would start their rounds – door to door, to take their revenge.
Why can’t his horns just be visible?