As days go by, more and more details emerge on the backstage workings of the Gay Girl in Damascus blog, the author of which was ostensibly “disappeared” in Damascus last week. The website Lezgetreal, which played a key role in the establishment and early fame of the blog, published the two IP addresses from which “Amina” logged on to the site (h/t commenter Louise). The same address was found by Googlesome readers to have been used in the editing of several Wikipedia article, including one on an incident at Edinburgh University involving Israeli diplomat Ishmael Khali, another on Martin of Tours, which could mean the author is a politically active Medieval History student at Edinburgh.
What’s more, discussion on Lezgetreal notes that various comments exploring the true identity of Amina on her own post get deleted, which can only mean someone is monitoring the blog and removing unwanted content. Another user notes that a certain reader of AGGID who defends Amina states to have studied medieval history and that English is not her first language.
So it may well mean that the author of the blog is flustered and alarmed but is (thankfully) alive and well thousands of miles from Damascus. Quite possible. Does it invalidate the blog and all its stood for? Well, for the meantime, I myself prefer to go with the Guardian’s Brian Whitaker. Whitaker reminds us of the Iraqi blogger Salam-Pax, who was widely suspected to be a fraud but turned out to be completely real, and observes:
What can be said with a fair degree of certainty is that the writer is a westernised gay Arab, probably female, and familiar with Syria – I really don’t buy the idea, suggested by a friend the other day, that the writer could turn out to be “Fat Man in Kansas”. Whether the writer has been blogging all the time from Damascus, I’m less sure about. It’s possible, but I can see nothing in the blog to prove or disprove that.
But let’s consider another possibility: that the writer, who had originally only intended to give her thoughts on life as an Arab lesbian, decided that with all the media attention and worsening events in Syria, it was getting out of hand and the time had come to stop, and perhaps even go into hiding.
One option would be simply to cease blogging, but by that stage she was too much of a celebrity – people would have noticed and started asking questions.
Option two: announce that she was giving up blogging or leaving the country – “personal reasons”, etc, etc. That, too would have generated speculation and in the midst of the uprising might have looked defeatist.
Option three: go out with a final dig at the regime by pretending to have been arrested. Again, she must have been aware that there would be consequences, though not perhaps on the scale that has actually happened.
I don’t like suggesting that this might be the truth but, as others have said, in the light of all the circumstances a pretend arrest is a possibility that has to be considered.