Amina: A 40-Year-Old Heterosexual White American Man1,100 views
When news broke out a week ago about Amina Arraf’s arrest in Damascus, we at Bekhsoos were very keen on supporting who we thought was a Syrian political activist. We had previously corresponded with “Amina” via email and cross-posted her work; she promised to write articles for Bekhsoos and we thought that was amazing.
When news broke out about “Amina’s” arrest, we were appalled; we sat and discussed the issue in our editorial meetings. Today, we stand before you with the knowledge that the owner of the blog “Gay Girl in Damascus” is none other than Tom MacMaster, an American student at Edinburgh University. Mr. MacMaster issued a public apology yesterday, June 12, on the “Gay Girl in Damascus” blog saying:
I never expected this level of attention. While the narrative voice mayhave been fictional, the facts on this blog are true and not misleadingas to the situation on the ground. I do not believe that I have harmedanyone — I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that Ifeel strongly about.I only hope that people pay as much attention to the people of the MiddleEast and their struggles in this year of revolutions. The events there arebeing shaped by the people living them on a daily basis. I have only triedto illuminate them for a western audience.This experience has sadly only confirmed my feelings regarding the oftensuperficial coverage of the Middle East and the pervasiveness of newforms of liberal Orientalism.However, I have been deeply touched by the reactions of readers.Best,Tom MacMaster,Istanbul, TurkeyJune 12, 2011The sole author of all posts on this blog
Earlier this week when questions about “Amina’s” existence were circulating, my reply was very clear and concise: Regardless who the person behind the blog is, this blog was real to its readers. In a short period of time, it gave a voice to sexual minorities and political activists in Syria and was respected for the courage of the person behind it. For me, “Amina” was as real as her blog; I related to her life, we became friends and exchanged emails, etc. I understood what anonymity meant to her and I know what it means to us. I expected a fake picture and even a fake name; I did not expect a fake personality all together.
I was still hoping while reading this public apology that the person behind the blog was Syrian, that he/she was arrested, that they at least lived in Syria! Sadly Mr. MacMaster with his hoax delegitimized the voice of so many Arab, specifically Syrian, bloggers. He spoke on our behalf without having the right or legitimacy of doing so, while delegitimizing our voice in the process. So I would like to thank you for stepping on our feet, experimenting with our lives, opening the eyes of an oppressive system to our existence, and most of all thank you for lying to us and tricking us into believing you. And since we are issuing out a thank you, we would also like to thank your wife for taking time off from her Istanbul vacation to tell the world that she
doesn’t want to be bothered with this mess of news.