Caught in the web

In 2011, a blog called “A Gay Girl in Damascus” attracted international attention when its author, Amina Arraf, was allegedly kidnapped, after her horrific accounts of life as a lesbian in the early days of Syria’s civil war. However, Amina’s blog turned out to be an elaborate hoax, perpetrated by a man, who happened to be an aspiring novelist, and this wife. The incident left human rights activists and bloggers outraged and provided a burst of ammunition for the regime to discredit the opposition as a Western conspiracy to undermine the country. Unsurprisingly, this dramatic episode has found its way off-line and on-stage, in play called Sour Lips, by Omar El-Khairy, which made its London debut in 2013.

Aside from this spectacular episode, internet fraud has generally been more mundane (though menacing, nonetheless) in the form of police posing as potential pick-ups on web in order to lure men into arrest. Such e-trawls occur across the region, but they are best documented in Egypt; for more information, see “Ana Gay”, by Oumnia Abaza , and “The Egyptian Blogosphere” by Grant Walsh-Haines.