A blog – A Gay Girl in Damascus – purportedly written by a gay woman in Syria has been unveiled as a hoax.

A Gay Girl in Damascus, a blog which supposedly documented the life of 25-year-old Amina Abdallah Arraf al-Omari, a lesbian living in  the Syrian capital during the recent political upheaval was actually written by Tom MacMaster, a 40 year old married US man studying at the University of Edinburgh.

The blog rose to fame with “Abdallah’s” reports on the pro-reform movement, her criticism of criticised President Bashar al-Assad and her thoughts on life as a lesbian living under a repressive regime.

However things got a bit sticky last Monday when a post said to be written by “Abdullah’s” cousin said she had been seized members of President Assad’s Baath party leading to online speculation that A Gay Girl in Damascus was a hoax.

Yesterday MacMaster came clean, posting an “apology to readers” on the blog saying he was “the sole author of all posts on this blog”.

In an interview with BBC Scotland MacMaster, defended his A Gay Girl in Damascus blog saying the facts were true even if Abdallah was fiction:

“I really felt a number of years ago, in discussions on Middle East issues in the US, often when I presented real facts and opinions, the immediate reaction to someone with my name was: ‘Why are you anti-American? Why are you anti-Jewish?'”

“So I invented a name to talk under that would keep the focus on the actual issue.”

He also claimed the success of A Gay Girl in Damascus took him by surprise but accepted that his actions fed into the government’s official line that reports of the crackdown were “foreign lies”.

He said however that the most important thing was to “get the information out”.

“People should stop focussing on the hoaxer and really be focussing on the most important people, the real people who are suffering in Syria.”


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