Assad's son wants "normal" treatment at maths competition in Romania


The teenage son of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has asked to be treated as a "normal student" while competing in the International Mathematical Olympiad in Romania, an education official said today.

Hafez al-Assad, 16, is one of the 615 students participating in the annual competition, taking place in the central city of Cluj-Napoca until Saturday.

"He wants to be treated like a normal student and he acts like one. He checked into a hotel alongside students from 18 countries", Valentin Cuibus, who leads the School Inspectorate in Cluj-Napoca, told AFP.

"He didn't ask for anything special; no special conditions, no separate apartment, giving that he shares a room with a colleague." Every country represented has a team of 6 students.

Hafez al-Assad, told local media that maths is his "childhood passion" and he is hoping for a good result. Last year, when the event took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Hafez al-Assad finished in 528th position out of a total of 615. He told reporters at the time that he had come to show the world that the war-torn country is "doing much better".

Hafez al-Assad, named after his late grandfather, benefits from special security measures in Romania, but organisers say his presence is not a disruption despite the attention. "We had absolutely no problem with him," underlined Valentin Cuibus.

Romania is one of the few European countries that still has an embassy in Syria. The country is a popular destination for Syrian students, with thousands graduating from the its universities in the last two years.

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