Syrian Media and A Gay Girl in Damascus

June 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

As many predicted, the Gay Girl in Damascus hoax fits perfectly with the Syrian regime’s narrative of foreign-led instigation of protests in Syria. The hoax has been covered in several Arabic-language news outlets, but the coverage is not yet as widespread or significant as it appears to be in English-language outlets. In coming days, I’m sure there will be more extensive coverage from outlets like al-Akhbar, but until now, here is how some Syrian outlets are talking about Tom MacMaster.

SANA includes a link to the story on their homepage with reports in English and Arabic. The Arabic version reports that “American participates in campaign of deception by fabricating a Syrian woman’s blog [who claims] to be kidnapped in Syria.”  That pretty much sums it up. SANA cites The Guardian as its main source of information, but does not mention sexual orientation until the second to last paragraph. The main thrust of the article is the fact that an American promoted “lies and allegations against Syria,” which turned out to be entirely false.

The Syrian online news site Syria News reports the incident as a hoax and clearly mentions that MacMaster impersonated an Arab-American lesbian. Again, the sexuality aspect takes a back seat to the whole “lies and deception” aspect. The article also highlights the Western media’s role in passing off fiction as fact, citing the Reuters photo incident as further proof.

Al-Watan Online, a Syrian site connected with the print version of al-Watan (owned by Rami Makhlouf), gives the standard interpretation of the hoax as read above. Al-Watan states that the gay identity of the blogger was what “helped attract interest of the media and people in the West.”

My guess is that we haven’t seen the last of MacMaster in the Arab press.



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