News | Syria

Skeptics Question Story of Kidnapped Syrian Lesbian Blogger

On Monday I posted a story about Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari, an out lesbian blogger from Damascus, Syria, who was allegedly seized by three men with government connections. The story has been picked up by all kinds of mainstream outlets, and now the story, as well as Araf's existence are being questioned.

Amina The NYT writes, as a follow-up to its story about the abduction:

Although it remains possible that the blog’s author was indeed detained, and has been writing a factual, not fictional, account of recent events in Syria, readers should be aware that the one person who has identified herself — to The Times, the BBC and Al Jazeera — as a personal friend of the blogger, Sandra Bagaria, has now clarified that she has never actually met the author of the Gay Girl in Damascus blog. Ms. Bagaria told The Lede that she had also never conversed with Ms. Arraf face to face via Skype, but had conducted an online relationship with her since January entirely through Internet communications in writing, including more than 500 e-mails.

Other details have emerged as well. WebProNews adds:

 A particular photo (see right), supposedly of Amina, was posted to the newly erected Facebook page and the media, both internet based and traditional, used the photo to identify Amina. It appears, however, that the picture that was circulating may not actually be Amina.

According to the WSJ, a London woman is saying that the photos supposedly of Amina Abdallah are actually in fact photos of her. The woman, Jelena Lecic, provided proof in the form of more photos that appeared to match the ones being passed off as Amina. Apparently Lecic’s ex-husband spotted the photos being circulated as Amina and recognized his ex-wife.

The whole thing could be a hoax.

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  1. it could be a hoax. or it could also be what people do in countries where homosexuality is so forbidden/punished. having lived in a country where gay people were often persecuted myself, i dont think it's so unusual that someone would conduct an online relationship where they don't take the step of meeting their partner, and might even decide to use a fake photo. im not saying this isn't a hoax, but the context here is something to consider...

    Posted by: mike128 | Jun 8, 2011 11:13:51 AM

  2. We haven't heard from Ratbastard in a while. Maybe he decided to create a fake persona somewhere else.

    Posted by: nodnarb | Jun 8, 2011 11:39:43 AM

  3. @NODNARB hilarious! first TANK, now're on to something

    Posted by: shanesoho | Jun 8, 2011 12:22:51 PM

  4. @NODNARB - Sssshhhhh! Let sleeping dogs lie ...

    Posted by: Leroy Laflamme | Jun 8, 2011 2:54:25 PM

  5. huh?

    Posted by: Tank | Jun 8, 2011 6:29:50 PM

  6. Andy, it *could* be a hoax, or it could be a metaphor for what happens to other LGBT community members in countries like Syria. The details differ, but the story is the same.

    Posted by: Max | Jun 8, 2011 6:51:09 PM

  7. Or, it could be it is entirely true, but the kidnappers, the government wants you to think it is nothing, but a hoax. And when they shut her, it wasn't her shut, but someone else, for other reasons instead of being lesbian and practicing her right of free speech.

    Posted by: ՊԱՅԾԱՌաՏԵՍ | Jun 9, 2011 3:17:01 AM

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