Release Abducted Syrian-American Blogger Amina Arraf ("A Gay Girl in Damascus")
As of June 13, 2011, this petition has been deactivated, due to the revelation via multiple sources that Amina Arraf's blog 'A Gay Girl In Damascus' was in fact authored by Tom MacMaster, and that the abduction story was in fact a complete fiction:
The editors at change.org alerted me to early suspicions regarding 'Amina's' identity within 24 hours of my posting the petition. We left the petition active, on the assumption that there could very well be a real Syrian-American in danger--especially given that secrecy is exactly what you would expect from a flesh-blood Syrian blogger criticizing the Syrian government and security forces. But as the
week went on it became clear that the pictures circulating in the media of 'Amina' were in fact of a London woman with no connection to Damascus or 'Amina Arraf'. Meanwhile the State Dept. continued to find no trace of any citizens in the region matching Ms. Arraf's description, and the evidence in favor of a fictitious abduction story began to accumulate.
As the (real-life) author of this petition, I would like to apologize to the 2000+ people who signed, and to the addressees who received the e-mailed petitions and who worked very hard to track down and secure the safety of an alleged American citizen.
I am dismayed that an ill-advised stunt by a Western-based activist has overshadowed the very real plight of Syrian journalists, bloggers, activists and ordinary citizens living through the government crackdown in the wake of the Arab Spring protests, and of LGTBQ citizens of countries of the Middle East.
I am concerned that buying into the 'Amina' fiction has kept me from working to understand the true complexities of the emerging political situation in Syria.
And I am hopeful that perhaps some good will come of this, ultimately, in the form of greater awareness of and concern for the Syria that really exists.
On the evening of June 6, 2011, Syrian-American blogger Amina Abdullah Arraf was was kidnapped on the streets of Dasmascus by three armed men driving a government vehicle. Arraf is a dual American and Syrian citizen born in Virginia. She is best known for her blog "A Gay Girl in Damascus", which she writes under the pseudonym Amina Abdallah, chronicling her life as devout Sunni Muslim and openly gay woman living in Syria. In recent months she has been participating in the on-going public demonstrations against the current regime and writing about her experiences on the internet. Ms. Arraf and her blog have become a focus and an international symbol of the pro-democratic political movement in Syria:
Presumably it is this political activism and international attention which has caused Syrian security forces to repeatedly threaten and finally abduct Ms. Arraf. A prior attempt to arrest Ms. Arraf was made at her father's house in late April. Since then she has been living in hiding. Based on this, and on the reports of witnesses present when Ms. Arraf was kidnapped, her friends and family members are quite certain that the regime has authorized her abduction and disappearance.
Over 1,000 people have been killed and 10,000 jailed as a result of the Syrian government's crackdown on the pro-democracy protests. Journalists and bloggers are particularly at risk. Ms. Arraf is a courageous woman working for freedom and basic human rights, and she is a much-needed channel of communication into an increasingly dangerous and volatile political situation.
This petition calls upon Secretary Clinton, the US State Department and Virginia Senators Warner and Webb to investigate Ms. Arraf's disappearance, and pressure the Syrian government to secure her safe release.
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