‘Gay Girl in Damascus’ confirmed as a hoax

13 Jun 2011

A blog purporting to be written by “an out lesbian” in Syria has been revealed to be a complete hoax.

The popular “A Gay Girl in Damascus” blog was in fact solely written by a 40-year-old American man named Tom MacMaster.

In a written apology on the blog, MacMaster, said he never expected the level of attention his posts received.

In yesterday’s post, he claimed he was living in Istanbul in Turkey but that has also turned out to be false and MacMaster, in fact, lives in Edinburgh, where he is studying for a Masters degree.

The blog, which has thousands of followers and has been viewed more than 800,000 times, claimed to be about “an out Syrian lesbian’s thoughts on life, the universe and so on …”

The girl in question was a fictional character called Amina Arraf. MacMaster created a background for Arraf, stating she was a Syrian-American teacher with Northern Irish roots.

“Her” posts began in April, when she claimed her father saved her from Syrian security forces.

An expert on the Arab Spring uprisings, Andy Carvin, an executive from National Public Radio in the US, started to raise doubts about the blog last week when he became aware that nobody had ever met Ms Arraf.

Last week, MacMaster uploaded a post, supposedly written by Rania O. Ismail, Arraf’s cousin, to say she was missing after being seized by three armed men from the Baath Party militia.

The blog has now been criticised for taking attention away from real stories coming out of the troubled Middle Eastern state.

Gay activists in Syria have also written about how the blog put them in extra danger.

“Because of you, Mr MacMaster, a lot of the real activists in the LGBT community became under the spotlight of the authorities in Syria. These activists, among them myself, had to change so much in their attitude and their lives to protect themselves from the positional harm your little stunt created. You have, sir, put a lot of lives, mine and some friends included, in harm’s way so you can play your little game of fictional writing,” wrote Sam Hamwi and Daniel Nassar on the Gay Middle East blog.

MacMaster, however, claimed his facts remain true and are not misleading as to the situation on the ground.

“I do not believe that I have harmed anyone – I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about,” he wrote.

Article courtesy of Businessandleadership.com