BEIRUT: Kim Kardashian has waded into the discussion of Syria’s conflict, calling on fans through Twitter to save the ancient Armenian Christian village of Kasab, whose residents fled when rebels seized control of the hamlet in March.
She appeared to have bolstered false claims by loyalists of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who said rebels had desecrated the village’s churches and slaughtered residents. She used the #SaveKessab hashtag that was used to spread the claims, causing its popularity to explode.
“If you don’t know what’s going on in Kessab please google it ... As an Armenian, I grew up hearing so many painful stories,” Kardashian wrote in a March 30 tweet, using an alternate spelling of the village’s name. “Please let’s not let history repeat itself!!!!!! Let’s get this trending!!!! #SaveKessab #ArmenianGenocide,” she wrote.
In doing so, the celebrity underscored how Syria’s war – more than any other in history – has been covered on social media, with both supporters of President Bashar Assad and those opposing his rule using selectively chosen videos and photos, sometimes faked, recycled or altered, to support their grievances.
While wartime propaganda is as old as conflict itself, the Syrian conflict is a unique case, in which all combatants heavily use social media, opening a window into a conflict that reporters can barely enter.
Kardashian’s use of the two hashtags side-by-side, “#SaveKessab” and “#ArmenianGenocide” also suggested that she was linking the flight of most of Kasab’s 2,000 residents to the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of Ottoman forces in the early 20th century.
The event is widely viewed by scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey, however, denies that the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.
Kardashian’s publicist Ina Treciokas said Kardashian was “just voicing her support for Armenians,” adding that she had no additional comment to give.
Kasab’s residents fled after rebels seized their village on March 23, as part of a rebel offensive in the coastal Syrian province of Latakia, Assad’s ancestral heartland.
There are no credible reports that rebels killed any residents, nor any confirming that they inflicted major damage on local churches.
Kardashian appeared to have quickly moved on. Her Kasab tweets were followed by a flurry of sultry selfies of her riding on a boat in a skimpy top and long skirt with hashtags like #WishYouWereHere and #WhatALife.