It's difficult to explain the cult of personality surrounding Syria's most recent leaders. The same phenomenon does not exist in the United States. We do not plaster our vehicles with holographed silhouettes of George W. Bush (even if we are fans of him), nor do we put up billboards urging him to hang in there when international events turn sour. The closest we get to expressing national pride in visual form is by displaying the American flag on stickers or shirts, and even that is technically against the flag code.
But Syrians love to honor their leaders as individuals. Representations of Hafez, Bashar, and even Basil al-Assad, in many different forms, can be found all over the country. Here are a few examples found in Damascus.
Can you find Hafez in this photograph? Hint: he's larger than life and on top of a tall building. And he probably lights up at night.
This one says it all. I suspect the heart lights up at night, too, though whether the lights are white or red (or if they flash in alternating patterns) is anyone's guess.
Here is a more stately tribute to Bashar - no aviator sunglasses here.
Old posters of Hafez have nearly peeled themselves off of this wall. He died seven years ago - have the posters been up since then? (I just checked and it was seven years ago exactly yesterday.)
Another classy tribute, this time adhered to the window of a service. It is not unusual to see entire rear windows of vehicles dedicated to Bashar al-Assad and his family. And by 'family,' I literally mean his wife and children. Often, they are depicted as being on holiday in either the Swiss Alps or in a sunny, beachy location. Oddly, both pictures feature the same pose.
I have a few more examples to post later. Unfortunately, we were unable to photograph any of the afore-mentioned holograph-Bashar-in-aviator-sunglasses. Fortunately, we have one on our car back in Tucson, though it's not as large as many I've seen.
To be continued...