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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 August 2018

Mai Skaf, prominent face of the Syrian revolution, dies 

The actress turned activist was among those who protested against the Al Assad regime

File photo of Syrian actress Mai Skaf during a film shoot in Amman, Jordan. AP
File photo of Syrian actress Mai Skaf during a film shoot in Amman, Jordan. AP

Syrian artist Mai Skaf, a vocal anti-regime activist, reportedly died on Monday following a heart attack, Arab media reported.

The 49-year-old actress, known for her roles in Damascus: The Smile of Sadness, Sahil Al Jihat, and Mirage, a short film during her time in Paris about a Syrian woman forced to leave the country during the civil war, was living in France where she was an outspoken critic of the regime of Bashar Al Assad.

As a prominent supporter of the protests at the start of the revolution, Ms Skaf was regularly harassed and arrested by the regime before she was able to flee in 2013.

From outside the country, she continued to regularly speak at events, write on social media and join pro-revolution protests. Soon after her death, social media networks started buzzing with farewell messages.

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In an interview with Saudi-owned broadcaster Al Arabiya in 2015, Ms Skaf said she rejected the view that Mr Assad was a defender of minorities and said that the rise of ISIS in Syria was a product of the regime attempting to remain in power.

In a video shot in June 2013 before she was able to flee Syria, Ms Skaf talks about the beginnings of the revolution, being detained as well as the tactics of fear used by the regime to maintain support among minorities.

The video, called A Farewell to Damascus, shows her receiving the call to tell her the government will not let her leave Syria. Looking at the camera she says, “I can’t go…I’m barred from travelling.” The camera then cuts to her packed bag by the door.

“The people are fine, upstanding people that appreciate and don’t forget your help. I’ve seen them myself. But it’s the same people being accused of being terrorist and Salafists. That are now being killed in [Eastern] Ghouta…,” she says in the video.

“I really fear for them,” she adds of regime supporters, “because the regime has been working really hard to turn this into a civil war.”

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