Bucharest: The teenage son of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is competing in the International Mathematical Olympiad in Romania, where he has asked to be treated like any normal student, an education official said Tuesday.
Hafez al-Assad, 16, is one of 615 students participating in the annual competition, which this year is being held in the central town of Cluj-Napoca until Saturday.
He already took part in last year’s competition in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, where he finished in 528th place out of a total of 615.
“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, head of the town’s schools inspectorate, told AFP.
Each country represented has a team of six students.
According to Romanian media reports, security has been stepped up for the event.
Romania is one of the few European countries that still has an embassy in Syria, which has been battered by more than seven years of conflict that has left more than 350,000 people dead, millions more displaced and the country in ruins.
Romania is a popular destination for Syrian students, with thousands graduating from its universities in the last two years.