Syria: ‘Gay Girl in Damascus’ Seized

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011.

Update (June 9, 2011): Since this post was published questions have been raised about the true identity of “Amina Arraf”. The photo below proved to be of a Croatian woman who lives in London. Read more here.

Amina Arraf has seen a quick rise to fame. Blogging pseudonymously, as Amina Abdullah, she writes about politics, the recent uprising, and being a lesbian in Syria. A dual citizen of the United States and Syria, her powerful words have shown the reality on the ground in Syria over the past few weeks.

Today, on Amina's own blog, it was reported that she had been kidnapped by authorities. Her cousin, Rania O. Ismail, reported:

Earlier today, at approximately 6:00 pm Damascus time, Amina was walking in the area of the Abbasid bus station, near Fares al Khouri Street. She had gone to meet a person involved with the Local Coordinating Committee and was accompanied by a friend.

‘Amina Arraf’ (now known to be a stolen photo of Jelena Lecic)

Amina told the friend that she would go ahead and they were separated. Amina had, apparently, identified the person she was to meet. However, while her companion was still close by, Amina was seized by three men in their early 20’s. According to the witness (who does not want her identity known), the men were armed. Amina hit one of them and told the friend to go find her father.

One of the men then put his hand over Amina’s mouth and they hustled her into a red Dacia Logan with a window sticker of Basel Assad. The witness did not get the tag number. She promptly went and found Amina’s father.

The men are assumed to be members of one of the security services or the Baath Party militia. Amina’s present location is unknown and it is unclear if she is in a jail or being held elsewhere in Damascus.

A few hours after the first post, Amina's cousin updated it with news:

I have been on the telephone with both her parents and all that we can say right now is that she is missing. Her father is desperately trying to find out where she is and who has taken her.

Unfortunately, there are at least 18 different police formations in Syria as well as multiple different party militias and gangs. We do not know who took her so we do not know who to ask to get her back. It is possible that they are forcibly deporting her.

From other family members who have been imprisoned there, we believe that she is likely to be released fairly soon. If they wanted to kill her, they would have done so.

That is what we are all praying for.

Amina's rise to fame was profiled in The Guardian just a few weeks ago, in an article which called her an “unlikely hero of revolt in a conservative country”.

On Twitter, Amina's friends and supporters are tweeting in solidarity, using the hashtag #FreeAmina, and a Facebook page has been created to urge global citizens to contact their local US Embassies, as well as journalists and other public figures.

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011.


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