x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Mother of death-row son who sold drugs in UAE a tower of strength

The mother of a 19-year-old Syrian who was sentenced to death by a criminal court recently has been cleaning his room everyday since his arrest waiting for his return.

The mother of a 19-year-old on death row has cleaned his room every day since his arrest for selling marijuana to an undercover policeman.

The Syrian lady is often to be seen in court running from one section to the other chasing the latest details about her son's case, as it works its way through the lengthy appeals process.

When she stops to chat, she pulls out her mobile phone and shows friends photos of her handsome son, for whom she has always had the highest hopes, enrolling him in the best international schools she could afford ever since he was a child.

Her calm demeanour in June when the Criminal Court sentenced to death her son and the 21-year-old Briton standing trial with him surprised those following the case.

She walked up to her son and told him not to be scared, assuring him they would fight it together. She even soothed the mother of the Briton, who broke down in tears outside the courtroom.

That evening she called a former colleague and reminisced about her struggle in giving birth. She remembered how doctors were forced to induce the birth of her son and how she breast fed him for two and a half years - longer than any of his siblings.

She told the colleague that she could no longer eat his favourite fruit - mango - without being reminded of him. As they chatted, she returned the mango she was holding to the fridge, where she stored it for his return, and turned on his favourite cooking show.

She stood strong by her son's side even as the trauma of his sentence caused his father major health problems that required him to leave the country.

Now she too struggles between moments of weakness and strength. In a recent hearing she cried quietly and, perhaps subconsciously, moved her body towards her son, as if to reach out and touch him.

She said her son had forbidden her to attend the hearings as he could not bear her tears, but she attends nonetheless, disguising herself in an abaya and sheyla.

She says her focus is for her son to survive the experience, and become stronger. "Moments of crisis are what makes real men," she says - not elite schools.

* The following story was written with input from the Judicial Department. The mother mentioned has consented to its publication.