Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, two and a half years into a blood-soaked rebellion against his rule, mourned Nelson Mandela’s death on Friday, calling his life an inspiration for freedom fighters and a lesson to tyrants.
The Syrian presidency added its voice to the chorus with a statement on its Facebook page on Friday, calling the South African statesman “an inspiration in the values of love and human brotherhood”.
“His history of struggle has become an inspiration to all the vulnerable peoples of the world, in the expectation that oppressors and aggressors will learn the lesson that in the end it is they who are the losers,” the statement said.
Not as cringe-inducing, but preposterous in its own right, is former Republican Senator Rick Santorum’s comparison of Mandela’s battle against apartheid with the opposition in the US to “big government” and the Affordable Care Act.
“He was fighting against some great injustice, and I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever-increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives — and Obamacare is front and center in that,” Santorum said Thursday in an interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News.
Meanwhile, even the mildest praise for Mandela from Republican politicians is drawing angry rebukes from the base.