Syrian lesbian writer Amina Arraf, who wrote the site A Gay Girl in Damascus, was allegedly arrested by Syrian security forces last week, according to her blog, before the veracity of A Gay Girl came under scrutiny. Sudden red flags — nobody had ever met Arraf, for one thing — led some Internet detectives to the possibility that Arraf is a 35-year-old lesbian living in Scotland. Where there's smoke: "Apology to readers," Arraf wrote today. It turns out, Arraf is a peace activist named Tom MacMaster, an American man from Georgia, currently studying for a masters in Middle Eastern policy at Edinburgh University. The photographs of Arraf, allegedly released by "a friend," are actually photos of Jelena Lecic, a London woman who says her identity has been stolen. Obviously, MacMaster is not a lesbian. He's married to Britta Froelicher, a student at the University of St. Andrews working toward a Ph.D. in Syrian economic development. The two are currently vacationing in Istanbul. On the blog, MacMaster explained:
"While the narrative voice may have been fictional, the facts on this blog are true and not mısleading as to the situation on the ground. 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."
Sadly, it has also only confirmed everyone else's feelings regarding grad students.