This was written by B.
Full disclosure: Last month I wrote a piece for MMW about the new ‘blog heroine’, Amina Abdullah. The thrust of my piece was my discomfort at her being promoted by the Western media as such a central figure in the Syrian uprising. However, the planned posting date coinciding with Amina’s kidnapping and the story was spiked on grounds of taste.
Of course, we now know that Amina was now an entirely fictional figure. Opprobrium has been heaped on the perpetrator of the lie, yet I find the media equally culpable.
Firstly, here’s why the media’s positing “Amina” as such a great revolutionary hero was so problematic. While she was a lesbian, she also stated that she was a dual U.S./Syrian national from a moneyed background, making her someone of great class privilege. Making Amina a hero reconfigured an uprising started and largely maintained by the poorest, least privileged members of society to an operation carried out by a hugely privileged, Western-approved figurehead.
Although the internet has proven vital in the ongoing struggle, most Syrians still do not have internet access/ use the internet and what access they do have is state-controlled. Many rely on internet cafes, but as food/oil prices rocket due to the unrest and the streets are seen as unsafe for many due to the government forces, people won’t be able to use them, either. This is not an uprising that was either started by, or is occurring, via the internet.
Likewise, many Syrians, particularly those from poorer areas are not likely to speak English, all of which means it is unlikely that her blog is the rallying point for the uprising as the articles implied. When an article in Jezebel lauded her bravery while simultaneously referring to the slaughter of hundreds and imprisonment of thousands as a “crackdown,” the framing moves from the implausible to the star-seeking and offensive. The Western media deserves criticism for erasing the reality of what is happening in to people Syria to produce a “juicy” story.