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article imageExiled Syrian actress who took on Assad buried in France

By AFP     Aug 3, 2018 in World

May Skaf, a prominent Syrian actress and activist who emerged as a fiercely outspoken critic of President Bashar al-Assad's regime after the uprising began in 2011, was buried Friday in France, where she had fled after being freed from prison.

The 49-year-old actress was found dead at her home earlier this week in Dourdan, a town southwest of Paris, where she had been living with her son.

Relatives said she had died of a ruptured aneurysm.

Skaf was a well-known television and theatre actress when demonstrations broke out against Assad in the wake of the Arab Spring protests of 2011.

The uprising later became a bloody civil war which has killed 350,000 people and forced millions from their homes.

Skaf was arrested in 2012 and held for three days after taking part in a Damascus protest that became referred to as the "intellectuals' demonstration".

She was briefly detained again the following year, and eventually fled to Jordan and later France.

Maryvonne Boquet, the mayor of Dourdan, said Skaf had been living there since 2015, housed by local authorities who have taken in several other Syrian refugees.

The coffin of Syrian actress and democracy activist Mai Skaf being carried in the cemetery of Dourda...
The coffin of Syrian actress and democracy activist Mai Skaf being carried in the cemetery of Dourdan, southwest of Paris, on August 3
Zakaria ABDELKAFI, Zakaria ABDELKAFI, AFP

"I will never lose hope, I will never lose hope. It's the majestic Syria, not Assad's Syria," she wrote on her last Facebook post.

An estimated 500 to 600 people, many with Syrian opposition flags, attended the funeral in Dourdan which was heavily covered by Arabic-language media outlets including Al Jazeera, according to an AFP photographer.

"May became a star because she refused any glory, she refused to earn money or work with people who exploited her," her son Jude al-Zoabi said at the ceremony.

"I'm sure that May never imagined where her path would take her. She believed in her ideals and took the path that respected those principles," he said.

Dima Wannous, a writer and friend of Skaf, said her death was "a loss for all of Syria".

"May was a very strong, confident, rebellious and combative person," she said.

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