French first lady calls for Syrian psychoanalyst's release
French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy called Sunday for the speedy release of Syria's first practising female psychoanalyst Rafah Nashed, arrested on her way to Paris last month.
In a letter to Nashed's husband, Faisal Mohammed Abdullah, she expressed concern for the 66-year-old cancer patient's health and the fact that her family was only allowed to pay her two half-hour visits per week.
The first lady stressed that Nashed appeared exhausted at the last meeting with her family, adding: "Everyone who knows her is concerned about her state of health."
In the letter, published on a French website, she described Nashed as an "independent and accomplished woman, known the world over whose life and work honour Syria, Syrian and Arab women and indeed all women."
Bruni-Sarkozy added: "I dare to hope that those who are in a position to do so, render Rafah Nashed to her family without waiting further."
Nashed founded the Damascus School of Psychoanalysis and until recently hosted meetings where Syrians could talk about their fears in the face of a deadly crackdown by the security forces on six months of protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
France has accused the Syrian regime of committing crimes against humanity and slammed the UN Security Council for failing to take a stronger stand on the unrest.
Syrian authorities detained Nashed, who suffers from cancer, heart trouble and high blood pressure, as she was preparing to board a flight to Paris from Damascus on September 10, her husband has said.
President Nicolas Sarkozy's wife said she was "appalled" by the arrest.
"It seems to me inconceivable that this clinician, who dedicates herself to therapeutics and study, can be a threat to public order, to state security," she said, expressing admiration for Nashed's courage.
Nashed, a French-speaking Syrian psychoanalyst, obtained her degree in clinical psychology from the University of Paris-Diderot, and was the first female psychoanalyst to practice in Syria.
© 2011 AFP