Dr.-Bashar-Al-AssadA few days ago shocking images flooded video screens around the world. Scenes of chaos and horror were broadcast to millions, traumatizing all who cast their gaze upon them. These pictures depicted a crime of the worst nature. A crime so despicable it has changed humanity forever: a woman expressed her sexuality on television.

I don’t consider myself to be a prude. My country has long been a cosmopolitan nation with relatively liberal social customs. But what Miley Cyrus did on MTV this week was a moral outrage against the international community — and those responsible must be punished.

In case you missed it, during MTV’s Video Music Awards last Sunday former child actress Miley Cyrus performed a disgraceful dance routine in which she repeatedly “twerked” and indecently groped the immensely talented pop singer Robin Thicke.

For those of us watching the event live, it was a stunning and sickening display of female desire. When Cyrus touched Thicke’s crotch with a foam hand, I couldn’t help but wonder: Is there anything happening in the world worse than this? How have the standards of human dignity and decency fallen so low?  What happened to the wholesome girl we knew and loved as Hannah Montana?

Thankfully, I was not alone in my outrage. Yesterday my very good friend Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC called Cyrus’s display “disturbing,” accused the singer of having an eating disorder and said someone at MTV should be fired over the incident.

As president of Syria I stand side-by-side with Mika Brzezinski in condemning these heinous attacks on the moral virtues of all humankind. No person — no matter their race, faith, nationality, or sexual orientation — should be subjected to such crass displays of sexuality on prime-time television.

Of course we’re all in favor of raunchy entertainment when performed by a male. When Justin Bieber removes his shirt at a concert, we’re annoyed but not outraged.  When Mike ‘The Situation” Sorrentino of Jersey Shore reveals his abs, we find it amusing. But when a female does something similar there’s only one word for it: barbaric.

The question before us now is, will we let this barbarism continue? Or will we unite together to stop this outrageous behavior once and for all? Over the past few days some have suggested boycotting MTV. Others have called for the American government to look into possible violations of federal decency statutes.

I believe these punishments would not go far enough. Today my government is calling on the International Criminal Court in The Hague to open an investigation into the actions of MTV executives involved in the planning and execution of this year’s VMA awards. We are also calling for the immediate arrest of Miley Cyrus on charges of crimes against humanity.

When CBS broadcast Janet Jackson’s breast in the infamous “wardrobe malfunction,” we let them get off with just a slap on the wrist. When MTV aired a nearly-nude Britney Spears at their 2000 VMA awards, nobody even fined them.

For too long we’ve stood idly by as American television executives have forced-fed the world a diet of depravity and evil. The time has come for the rest of the world to fight back. If the ICC fails to act, Syria may be forced to act unilaterally. A red line has been crossed, and we cannot in good conscience sit by and allow this immodesty to go unpunished.

Bashar Al-Assad has served as Syria’s president since 2000. 


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