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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

American lesbian blogger kidnapped in Syria

Author of 'A Gay Girl in Damascus' was reportedly seized off the street

A female blogger who emerged as an unlikely spokesperson for the largely anonymous anti-government protests sweeping Syria was seized by armed men on the streets of the capital, according to a post late Monday.
American-Syrian Amina Araf, who penned 'A Gay Girl in Damascus' under the name Amina Abdallah, was walking with a friend when three men in their twenties grabbed her, someone claiming to be her cousin wrote.  Being openly gay is very unusual and risky in the region.
"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," a person identifying calling herself Rania O. Ismail wrote on the blog Monday night.
Bassel Assad was the late brother of President Bashar Assad who headed presidential security until his death in 1994.
Rights groups say 1,000 civilians have been killed in around two months of protests against Assad and his Baath Party. 
The blog went on to say, "the men are assumed to be members of one of the security services or the Baath Party militia. Amina's present location is unknown."
Araf's father, who was in hiding, was willing to go public in order to locate her, according to the blog.
"He has asked me to share this information with her contacts in the hope that someone may know her whereabouts and so that she might be shortly released," it said.
'Lost by being unflexible' Amina made a name for herself by writing about politics, religion and sexuality.
"(Syrian authorities) lost by being unflexible and intransigent; they lost by not realizing that times have changed. That will be their epitaph; they lost because they could not change," according to a posting on Sunday.
In April, wrote that she and her family had been woken up by members of the security services in "the wee small hours."
When they accused her of being an ultra-conservative Salafist Islamist, the blog described her father's incredulity.
"You should be heaping praises on her and on people like her ... they are the ones who, if the revolution comes, will be saving your mother and your sisters," her father reportedly said.
As the revolt around her became more violent, Araf maintained a pacifist stance. As recently as Sunday she wrote:
"Some people say you fight fire with fire: no, you fight fire with water, not with fire. We will put out the blind hatreds of sectarianism not with sectarianism of our own but with love and with solidarity," she wrote. 
In the post Araf admitted to being afraid: "Already tales of lynchings have started to begin. How long before there are more?"

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