Blogger and activist Amina Abdallah Arraf who writes A Gay Girl in Damascus has reportedly been detained from the streets of Damascus, the Syrian capital, yesterday evening. As a non-violent advocate of change, Amina organized community meetings, attended protests and tried to ensure that people were aware of the regime’s actions.
Rania O. Ismail, who identifies herself as Amina’s cousin, posted a letter to Amina’s blog detailing Amina’s abduction by thee men. Amina had a friend with her who witnessed the events and at Amina’s request went to alert her father. Amina’s whereabouts are unknown.
Amina has been writing her blog since February and has written openly about her wishes to see President Bashar-al Assad fall and her criticisms of the government. She wrote, in one of her posts in February, about her reasons for the blog:
“I live in Damascus, Syria. It’s a repressive police state. Most LGBT people are still deep in the closet or staying as invisible as possible…But I have set up a blog announcing my sexuality, with my name and my photo.
Am I crazy? Maybe.
But I’m also aware of the winds of freedom and change blowing from one end of the Arab world to the other. And I want that freedom wind to bring with it our liberation, not just as Arabs and as Syrians, but also as women and as lesbians.
Maybe it will happen. Maybe it won’t.
But if I want it to happen, I have to begin by doing something bold and visible. I can, because I’m a dual national and have benefits of politically connected relatives, be more visible than many women here. I’m already out to my family …
And I want to be an example to others … to know that one of is trying …
so I’ll be posting about women’s issues, gay issues, life in Syria, history, politics, living out … enjoy!”
Amina has been in hiding for the past month, traveling in disguise since a couple of men who spoke with her father appeared at her home looking for her.
Amina’s cousin Rania is posting updates to the blog, and her friend Sandra Bagaria has turned to social networking to publicize the case. She told the New York Times in a telephone interview: “I have no news. I am working as hard as I can, we all are, to gather as much information as I can gather. I talked to Rania yesterday at the end of the day, but she had no news. None of us have any news. What we are doing now is alerting as many people as possible in Syria to get as much information as we can. The blog is very popular and since yesterday word has spread on Twitter, and now people are spreading the news very quickly.”
You can write to a Syrian embassy about Amina’s case, and follow the Free Amina Abdalla Facebook page, which has over 8000 people following the case.