THE AUTHOR of the increasingly popular blog A Gay Girl in Damascus has been named as Tom MacMaster – an American man living in Scotland.
The blog had purported to be written by feminist and lesbian Amina Abdallagh Araf al Omari who wrote about her life in Syria and her views on politics and religion.
Posts began in February and the most recent posts suggested the author had been arrested by security forces. One message written by Amina’s ‘cousin’ ended:
We are hoping she is simply in jail and nothing worse has happened to her. Amina had previously sent me several texts to post should something happen to her and we will wait until we have definite word before doing so.
Today the Guardian reports that the wife of Middle East activist and Edinburgh University masters student MacMaster, 40, confirmed he was behind the blog. The gay community in Syria has reacted angrily to the revelation, saying that it has harmed their cause.
Bloggers Sam Hamwi and Daniel Nassar have written on the Gay Middle East blog about the dangers bloggers face in Syria and their outrage over the true identity of the Gay Girl blogger. Nassar writes:
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.
Yesterday, MacMaster posted the following apology on his blog, claiming to be in Turkey and saying he had never anticipated such a level of interest in the blog (note: date below has not been changed from the original post):
Defending his blog, MacMaster told the BBC he had wanted to draw people’s attention to the “actual issues” rather than the “man behind the curtain”. He said he had been in contact with a lot of people in Syria and had been following events in the country “very closely”.
He also apologised to the woman whose image he used on the blog as the face of his fictional author. She had no connection with the blog.
Photographs were taken down from the blog yesterday.