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June 16, 2011

Lesbian Syrian Blogger Hoax Exposed

Amina Arraf.jpg
Jelena Lecic of London said her photographs were appropriated by the blogger who fabricated Syrian Lesbian activist Amina Arraf

The latest Internet hoax has blown up in the face of journalists, activists, and the concerned public. As USA Today reports:

A 40-year-old American man living in Scotland said Monday he's sorry for posing as a Syrian lesbian blogger who offered vivid accounts of life amid revolt and repression in Damascus, a hoax that has exposed the difficulty of sifting truth from fiction online.

Tom MacMaster said he created the fictional persona of Amina Arraf and the "Gay Girl in Damascus" blog to draw attention to conditions in a Middle East convulsed by change. . . .

On June 6, a post on the Arraf site, ostensibly by a cousin, said she'd been abducted by armed men in a Damascus street. The Internet erupted with alarm. A "Free Amina Arraf" Facebook page drew 14,000 supporters. The U.S. State Department said it was making inquiries to establish her identity.

But other bloggers began to go public with their growing doubts about Arraf's authenticity.

Some thought an April 26 post describing how two plainclothes security agents came to her home to detain her and were persuaded to leaving by her father sounded extremely implausible. Syria's hardline security services are not known as being easily dissuaded.

Reporters in Virginia, where Arraf claimed to have grown up, could find no trace of her or her family.

Journalists could find no one who had ever met her — not even Sandra Bagaria, a Montreal woman who was having an online relationship with her and had exchanged hundreds of emails with "Amina."

Posted by TS at June 16, 2011 02:31 AM


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