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Syrian First Lady in "Vogue"

Back in March, Vogue Magazine did a portrait of Syrian first lady Asma al-Assad. That's the wife of the guy who is currently killing his own people by the hundreds, because they want freedom. Good opportunity to ask some probing questions about one of the most oppressive regimes in the world. Or do a fluff piece about the wife of a homicidal dictator, whatever.

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  • Syria is known as the safest country in the Middle East...a place without bombings, unrest, or kidnappings

  • It's about everyone taking shared responsibility in moving this country forward, about empowerment in a civil society

  • She managed to get people to consider the possibilities of a country that's modernizing itself, that stands for a tolerant secularism

  • I like to get out and meet people and do things

  • My husband gave me back something I had lost

  • Her intelligence is both intellectual and emotional

  • That's how religions live together in Syria - a way that I have never seen anywhere else in the world. We live side by side, and have historically

  • [The president] says he was attracted to studying eye surgery "because it's very precise, it's almost never an emergency, and there is very little blood"

  • You're safe because you are surrounded by people who will keep you safe

  • The household is run on wildly democratic principles. We all vote on what we want, and where

  • We have to help them

  • The president joins in the punch line: "Brad Pitt wanted to send his security guards here to come and get some training!"

  • People clap, and some call out his nickname: "Docteur! Docteur!"

  • This is how you fight extremism - through art

  • "This is the diversity you want to see in the Middle East," says the president, ringing his bell. "This is how you can have peace!"