Analysis: Careless fiction puts a vulnerable group in serious added danger

Amina's story got the attention of the world when allegedly her father shamed the state security into not arresting his daughter.

This story could never have happened if one knows Syria well enough. With the story of abduction, it became even more of an internet/media sensation and the holy trio of sex, violence and religion and made it irresistible to many journalists. Several international outlets wrote stories about Amina, and many of them attached a picture of her to the stories.

Tom MacMaster has written an apology on the blog of the fictional character of Amina revealing his identity, claiming that he does not believe that he "harmed anyone" and adding that he feels he has "created an important voice for issues" that he feels strongly about.

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Let us explain the multiple harms Mr MacMaster and his fictional blog enforced upon the LGBT community in Syria and the Arab blogging community in general.

Firstly, he forced the LGBT community into the current political game in the region. This is a game that the small and weak LGBT community in Syria cannot handle; the authorities, which are cracking down on whomever they believe is attacking the Syrian regime, are now adding the LGBT community to the circle of possible threats Also, LGBT people on the ground, whether they are politically active or not, are now in grave danger that they might be seen as "Amina".

Secondly, the fabricated story added to the stigma already existing in the minds of the society members of Syria, that homosexuals are sinful, lying, dishonest characters. There are many who are traditional people who do not need another reason to hate homosexuals. Granted, most of the news outlets that cared about Amina's story were in English; but word goes around and people know.

The stunt carried out by Mr MacMaster added salt to the wounds in the struggle for LGBT rights in the region.

Looking back, the blog was too perfect. Too narratively controlled and carefully presented. People may remember the Baghdad blogger, who gave an insight into the pain and deaths caused by the Iraq war. An individual person can give an insight to a complex and violent situation, but now, because of MacMaster, people will be distrustful of these genuine voices.

Finally; to be able to publish this story, and to be quoted on other stories over the past couple of days, editors from across the globe needed to look to genuine bloggers to verify their reality - but the trust between foreign media and those activists, who are needing any support they can get to continue their brave struggle, is gone forever because of Amina.

• Dan Littauer is executive editor of and Daniel Nassar is an independent blogger in Syria.

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