The story of a lesbian writer kidnapped in Syria has been
revealed as a hoax.
Forty year-old American Tom MacMaster - a mature student at
Edinburgh University - has instead declared that he was the sole
author behind the popular blog A Gay Girl in Damascus.
The news ends days of speculation surrounding the identity of its
author, who was said to be a lesbian called Amina Abdallah Araf al
As reported on DIVA last week, the blog gained international
focus after it was claimed that Abdallah had been abducted while en
route to a meeting. A post on her blog, said to be published by a
relative, claimed she was seized by three armed men who are thought
to be members of the security services.
It read: "Amina was seized by three men in their early 20s.
According to the witness (who does not want her identity known),
the men were armed. Amina hit one of them and told the friend to go
find her father."
A slew of news stories followed which featured a picture of a
young woman, who it was implied was Abdallah. Within hours it
transpired that the woman pictured was actually a Londoner called
Subsequently, officials began to trace the source of the emails
and blogs, which led them to Mac Master.
"I never expected this level of attention," he wrote in a
confession posted on the blog.
"The events [in the Middle East] are being shaped by the people
living them on a daily basis. I have only tried to illuminate them
for a western audience."
"While the narrative voice may have been fictional, the facts on
this blog are true and not misleading as to the situation on the
ground," the update read.
"This experience has, sadly, only confirmed my feelings
regarding the often superficial coverage of the Middle East and the
pervasiveness of new forms of liberal Orientalism. However, I have
been deeply touched by the reactions of readers."