The son of Syrian President Bashar Assad said people who call his father a dictator don’t understand the reality of his country and that the population is united with him in fighting “invaders,” Brazil’s O Globo newspaper reported.
Hafez Assad, 15, is part of Syria’s delegation at the International Math Olympiad, a two-week event being held in Rio de Janeiro organized by the Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics, or IMPA. During his time in Rio he reportedly visited Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statute and Sugar Loaf Mountain.
Hafez Assad, who was named after his grandfather, had kept a low profile until he was interviewed by an O Globo reporter who asked him how he felt about people calling his father a dictator.
“I know what kind of man my father is. As president, people say a lot of things (about him). Many are blind. But this (what they say) isn’t reality,” Hafez Assad responded in Monday’s report.
“I live and see the horror that is happening in my country,” he said. “The population and the government are united against the invaders that are taking the country.”
Brazil in recent years has received more refugees from Syria’s conflict, over 2,300, than any other country in the Americas, and it has a large Syrian diaspora dating back to early twentieth-century migration.