DAMASCUS, SYRIA–Syrian Interior Minister Mohammad al-Shaar is facing widespread criticism this week after it was reported that he described the United States as a “shithole” country in a private meeting with other government officials.
The comment arose during heated negotiations over Syria’s immigration policies. In past remarks, Shaar has favored heightened restrictions on immigration to the Syrian Arab Republic in the name of national security.*
In the meeting, Shaar reportedly asked “Why do we have all these people from shithole countries come here?” The story was initially broken by The Washington Post, citing anonymous officials briefed on the discussions.
For his part, Shaar has denied ever using the language quoted and several Ba’ath party members have come to his defense, labeling the reports “fake news”.
In spite of this denial though, Shaar appeared to defend the spirit of the remarks in his first press conference after the story.
In a prepared statement, Shaar emphasized his continued opposition to accepting immigrants or visitors from the United States.
“The United States is the world’s largest debtor and they can only pay their bills by borrowing more money. They also have a long history of overstaying their welcome,” Shaar added, referring to the large contingent of illegal American immigrants based in eastern Syria.
“When America sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us. They’re bringing bombs. They’re bringing guns. They’re war criminals. And some, I assume, are good people,” Shaar told reporters.
*This is a satirical post. While Shaar is the Syrian Interior Minister, all of the quotes attributed to him are fictional in nature.