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Update: ‘Gay Girl in Damascus’ blog created by straight Scottish man

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Tom Macmaster

The saga of the "Gay Girl in Damascus" blogger who was first reported kidnapped, then reported to possibly not exist at all, has come to an annoying but not altogether surprising close: the blog of Amina Arraf, supposedly a lesbian activist in Syria, was actually created and maintained by a married Scottish man named Tom MacMaster, pictured above.

After evidence mounted from the findings of various journalists and bloggers, MacMaster, a student and peace activist, admitted to creating the blog along with his wife, and issued the following non-apology apology:

Apology to readers

I never expected this level of attention. While the narrative voıce may have been fictional, the facts on thıs blog are true and not mısleading as to the situation on the ground. I do not believe that I have harmed anyone — I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about.

I only hope that people pay as much attention to the people of the Middle East and their struggles in thıs year of revolutions. The events there are beıng shaped by the people living them on a daily basis. I have only tried to illuminate them for a western audience.

This experience has sadly only confirmed my feelings regarding the often superficial coverage of the Middle East and the pervasiveness of new forms of liberal Orientalism.

However, I have been deeply touched by the reactions of readers.

Best,
Tom MacMaster,
Istanbul, Turkey
July 12, 2011

The sole author of all posts on this blog

Yes, it's great news that this "woman" is not actually in harm's way, and yes, many of the blog's posts undoubtedly represent similar experiences of real-life activists, but this still feels like a pretty manipulative and misguided tactic on MacMaster's part. More to the point, his attempt to draw attention to and emphasize the seriousness of the situation in Syria through an idealized (and media-perfect) character very likely did just the opposite. Let us know what you think in the comments. Does his point still stand, or is this just a major waste of everyone's time?