An American man living in Scotland is speaking out after being revealed to be the true author of a blog purportedly written by a lesbian Syrian-American living in Damascus.
Edinburgh-based U.S. student Tom MacMaster tells the Guardian that his own vanity and interest in writing inspired his decision to pose as a woman described as 25-year-old Amina Abdallah Arraf al-Omari for "A Gay Girl In Damascus," a blog which had been hailed by Time magazine as "an honest and reflective voice" of life amid Syria's ongoing revolt.
"It created a lot of attention and controversy," the 40-year-old MacMaster, who is currently on vacation in Istanbul, says. "I wanted to shut down the whole blog for a while, and I was thinking I would phase out the character...and having her abducted was not the way to do it."
Despite the fact that the hoax has been slammed by gay rights advocacy groups and other human rights organizations, MacMaster believes his blog did have a positive effect. "I regret that quite a number of people are seeing my hoax as distracting from real news, real stories about Syria," he says. "What I don't regret is the fact that I did hopefully bring a good bit of attention to real human rights abuses in Syria, the real situation that real people are facing even if through a fictional voice."
Watch the Guardian's full interview with MacMaster here: