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Revealed: Lesbian Syrian Blogger Is Really 40-Year-Old Bearded Married Dude

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By HVnews on June 13, 2011

When Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari arrived on the Internet scene, activists and bloggers across the world were entranced by her tales as a young lesbian women living in Syria, skirting with danger and fleeing from “Them.” She used her blog, “A Gay Girl In Damascus,” to voice her experiences in Syria and broadcast them to the eager public waiting to believe Amina’s story.

The only issue was that no one had actually seen or spoken to this Amina person, aside from exchanging emails. We recently wrote about the mystery of Amina and how the recent claim of Amina’s kidnapping sparked deeper investigations into her identity.

Turns out Amina, the 25-year-old lesbian Syrian blogger running from the government, is actually Tom MacMaster, a 40-year-old married and bearded dude at Edinburgh University studying for his masters.

His wife is studying Syrian economic development at St. Andrews in Edinburgh as well. For years MacMaster has been pretending to be Amina for the sake of “getting the information out.” He had communicated with many people as “Amina” through the Internet, sometimes striking up long-distance friendships through hundreds of emails.

According to the Guardian:

There was no immediate reaction from Sandra Bagaria, the French Canadian woman who exchanged around 1,000 emails with Amina and believed herself to be in a romantic relationship with her.

Listen, Tom, doing a little role-playing with the wife is totally fine, but not when you pretend to be a lesbian Syrian blogger and then go “JK you guys, I was just kidding.”

On June 6th, Amina’s cousin posted that Amina had been taken by armed government men in the street. As you would expect, cries rang out across Syria, prompting activists and journalists to put their lives on the line to figure out what had happened to their favorite spunky blogger. That’s when Tom MacMasters went to far.

The U.S. State Department and other organizations started looking into the matter and discovered that Amina didn’t really exist outside of the Internet. The IP address led investigators to a computer in Scotland and the pictures that Amina put up of herself turned out to be someone totally different. Eventually it led MacMaster to update the blog to take full responsibility for the Amina character. He went on to state that “I do not believe that I have harmed anyone” and “While the narrative voice may have been fictional, the facts on this blog are true and not misleading as to the situation on the ground.”

But how about the thousands of people following Amina and joining Facebook groups to free her? Let’s see what the rest of the world has to say, shall we?

According to Yahoo! News:

“Sami Hamwi, the pseudonym for the Damascus editor of GayMiddleEast.com, wrote on its website: “I say shame on you!!! There are bloggers in Syria who are trying as hard as they can to report news and stories from the country.” “Your apology is not accepted, since I have myself started to investigate Amina’s arrest. I could have put myself in a grave danger inquiring about a fictitious figure.”

And The Telegraph:

“However, doubts about her story were raised last week by Andy Carvin, an executive from National Public Radio in the US, after Miss Arraf was reported by her “cousin” to have been kidnapped…Carvin wrote on Twitter that he was “trying to calculate the number of people Tom hurt – by pretending he was Amina and by taking attention away from Syrians.”

So after the entire thing broke, you’d think that at least MacMaster and his wife would try and stem the tide of rising indignation against them, providing benefits for the creation and continuation of Amina. But according to NPR, MacMaster’s wife stated that, “We are on vacation in Turkey,” she wrote, “and just really want to have a nice time and not deal with all this craziness at the moment.”

In an interview with the Washington Post on Friday, MacMaster responded:

“Look, if I was the genius who had pulled this off, I would say, ‘Yeah,’ and write a book,” he said Friday, reached in Istanbul, where he is vacationing with his wife, a graduate student working on a PhD in international relations.

Start writing, Tom. Oh, and this time, don’t claim to be a Native American princess or something.

We’re on to you.

UPDATE: This peculiar story has taken yet another twist, as Paula Brooks, founder of the Lez Get Real blog that republished Amina’s work and communicated with her, has been revealed to be Bill Graber, a 58-year-old retired Ohio military man and construction worker. Amazing: two dudes pretending to be lesbians online, neither knowing the other’s secret, trying to change the world one blog post at a time.

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