Conflict & Justice

Syria: Questions surround reported disappearance of lesbian blogger


A screen grab shows the main page of the Syrian parliament's official website after it was hacked by Syrian opposition activists on April 29, 2011.



Doubts have arisen over the existence of Amina Abdallah Arraf, a supposed lesbian blogger who has been chronicling life in Syria during the uprising in "A Gay Girl in Damascus."

GlobalPost posted this article based on news reports that Arraf had been kidnapped on Monday night in Damascus by armed men.

However, according to the NYTimes late Tuesday:

Andy Carvin, an NPR journalist and expert at debunking Internet rumors, pointed out that none of the reports of the arrest of Amina Abdallah Arraf appeared to have been written by journalists who had previously met or interviewed her. A few hours after Mr. Carvin asked his network of followers on Twitter, “has anyone met Amina (Gay Girl In Damascus) in person?” he observed: “It’s just odd that I can’t find anyone who has actually met her in person.”

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.

The post goes on to report that the one person who has identified herself as a personal friend of Arraf’s, Sandra Bagaria, said she’d never actually met her, and to Carvin’s knowledge, all of Arraf’s interviews had been conducted via email.