Author of A Gay Girl in Damascus had shot to prominence for her frank views on Syrian uprising, politics and being a lesbian
A blogger whose frank and witty thoughts on Syria‘s uprising, politics and being a lesbian in the country shot her to prominence was last night seized by armed men in Damascus.
Amina Arraf, who blogged under the name Amina Abdallah, holds dual Syrian and American citizenship and is the author of the blog A Gay Girl in Damascus, which has drawn fans from Syria and across the world.
She was kidnapped last night as she and a friend were on their way to a meeting in Damascus. The kidnapping was reported on her blog by a cousin.
“Amina was seized by three men in their early 20s. According to the witness (who does not want her identity known), the men were armed,” wrote Rania Ismail.
“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.”
Basel is the brother of president Bashar al-Assad, and was being groomed for the presidency until his death in a car crash in 1994.
Amina, who was midway through writing a book, had become increasingly popular after capturing the imagination of the Syrian opposition as the protest movement struggled in the face of the government crackdown.
Several Facebook pages had been set up on Monday evening calling for her release. The Free Amina Arraf Facebook page had already gathered over 150 members by midnight and activists were tweeting using the hashtag FreeAmina.Writing on Amina’s blog, Ismail said it was unknown if she was in a jail or being held elsewhere in Damascus. Syria has at least 13 branches of security forces, various police divisions as well as 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,” she wrote.
Amina was increasingly angered by the government crackdown, writing on Sunday: “They must go, they must go soon. That is all there is to say.”
Human rights groups say over 10,000 have been detained by the authorities since protests started in mid-March. They include women and children and many report ill-treatment and torture at the hands of the security services as the regime seeks to put an end to growing dissent against over 40 years of rule by the Assad family.
Amina’s last post earlier yesterday [Mon] was a poem about coming freedom entitled Bird Songs.
During an earlier interview with the Guardian Amina said: “The Syria I always hoped was there, but was sleeping, has woken up. I have to believe that, sooner or later, we will prevail.”
• This article was amended on 7 June 2011 and again on 8 June 2011 after complaints that photographs accompanying articles relating to Amina Araf showed someone other than the abducted blogger. The photographs have been removed pending investigation into the origins of the photographs and other matters relating to the blog.