I haven't been able to get the story of the missing "Gay Girl in Damascus" blogger -- Amina Arraf -- out of my mind since I first heard about it on Monday. The blog, which has been online since February of 2011, detailed the life of an out American/Syrian lesbian and, in particular, her views on the uprisings in Syria and her desire to see the current administration fall.
But as detailed here previously, someone who identified herself as Amina's cousin posted to the blog on Monday that Amina was abducted by armed government thugs and hadn't been seen or heard from since. It was a very alarming post, especially in light of the fact that there had been earlier blog posts in which the blogger stated that there had been multiple attempts to arrest her in the past, and that she had been in hiding since May 4th in order to protect herself. Had Amina finally been captured? And would she be killed?
The story was picked up by a wide variety of news outlets, and with most articles, images from Amina's Facebook page had been used as a photo of her (see below).
But then it turned out that neither this photo, nor many of the other photos that Amina had posted on her Facebook page, were of someone named Amina Arraf at all, but rather a British woman named Jelena Lecic, and not only wasn't she Amina, but she had never even heard of her.
Amina's Facebook page:
Jelena's Facebook Page:
Here's Jelena on the BBC:
That news caused many reporters to go out and try and find anyone who had ever met Amina in person. Turns out they couldn't find anyone. The one person that was found, by NPR, who considered herself to be Amina's girlfriend, admitted she had only ever emailed and texted with Amina, and had never actually spoken to her in person. The interview she did with NPR is both compelling and a bit scary, and you can listen to it online here.
It was also discovered that Amina had kept another blog back in 2007, in which she stated that "This blog will have what may sometimes seem likely deeply personal accounts. And sometimes they will be. But there will also be fiction. And I will not tell you which is which."
The person who has done the most work on the story, NPR's Andy Corvin, has been tweeting his findings.
Now, the Twitterverse is exploding with theories of who Amina might actually be, ranging from "she is part of the Israeli Mossad" to "She is in Georgia" (?).
Of course, we can't forget what Andy Corvin most recently tweeted: "The worst outcome for #Amina is that her fake pics and all make people conclude she's a fraud- while she sits in a Syrian jail."
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