On 17 August 2012, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius stated: "After hearing the harrowing testimonies of the people here (...) when we hear all that, and I weigh my words: M . Bashar al-Assad does not deserve to be on earth."

Contrary to the most basic diplomatic principles, such remarks were interpreted as a call for murder on the part of a country that has abolished the death penalty.

Fabius’ new communications directives ban the use of the family name of the President of the Syrian Arab Republic Bashar al-Assad. In all their public statements, the minister and his spokesman now refer to him informally as "Bashar".