Got your attention, didn’ t I?
Yes I did, just like the two big stories about Syria that rocketed to the top of the Internet’s “trending” charts over the past few days. No, I’m not talking about the alleged massacre of Syrian security officials in Jisr al-Shughour or the government’s planned response. I’m talking about the fake resignation of Syria’s ambassador to France on live TV, and the strange story of Amina Abdallah Araf al-`Omari’s disappearance.
For those of you who are not on Facebook or Twitter and have not checked a Google News page in the past 48 hours or so, here’s the skinny:
- France 24 was apparently “the victim of a hoax” yesterday when a woman pretending to be Lamia Chakkour, Syria’s ambassador in Paris, told the channel on live television that she was resigning from her post as an expression of protest against her government’s handling of the crisis in Syria. The odd thing is that the France 24 producer who had arranged the interview had done so in advance by communicating via email with the embassy, so it’s not like someone just called up the station in the middle of a random broadcast. Furthermore, Reuters apparently confirmed the resignation later in the day by calling the embassy and inquiring about its legitimacy. The hoax, then, seems to have been an inside job.
- The second big story is about the alleged disapparance of Amina Abdallah Araf al-`Omari, the Syrian-American author of a wonderful blog entitled “A Gay Girl in Damascus“. When news that she had been abducted was posted on her blog by her cousin Rania, the internet exploded: a Facebook group generated over 12,000 members in a single day; the US Embassy began searching feverishly for evidence that she did in fact hold an American passport, as a prelude to tracking her down in Damascus; and thousands of new readers flocked to her blog with messages of support from all over the world. Then, later yesterday evening, it became clear that a photo of her published by The Guardian was actually of somebody completely different, and NPR’s Andy Carvin (along with some other folks at The New York Times’s Lede blog) discovered all kinds of other interesting contradictions and puzzles about the story.
[In the spirit of these stories, here begins the shameless rumor-mongering, leading-question section of this post]:
So, what’s going on? Is the Gay Girl in Damascus a real person?! Did the Syrian Ambassador in Paris really call France 24 and resign only to recant the next day?! Is the Gay Girl in Damascus really the Syrian Ambassador in Paris?! Are they both fictitious people concocted by a shadowy viral media campaign that is wagging the Syrian dog? Stay tuned [menacing cackle…]