Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Arab lesbian and Syria behind bars

It takes much courage to declare Arab lesbian. And to be in Syrian dissident times. It takes a special courage to discuss openly both in a blog when the regime that controls your life by a dozen ruthless security services undertaken hunting blogger, activist, defender of human rights or of anyone in your attack paranoid fear of extinction, consider that threatens their survival.

And the young Amina Abdallah Araf, author of Blog 'A lesbian in Damascus', was the face and put words to that value until yesterday, when she was arrested on behalf of a dictatorship that responds to criticism of guns. "Amina has been captured by three men about 20 years. According to witnesses, were armed (...) Amina struck one of them and asked his friend to fetch his father.

One of the men covered her the mouth with his hand and dragged him to a red car with a sticker of Basil Assad. " The penultimate entry in his blog is run by one of her cousins, Rania Ismail. She has been commissioned to convey to readers the news of his capture. It happened when I walked through Damascus with a friend.

Then he saw them coming, and the first of whom was agreed upon was the man I devoted a post in mid-April, 'My father the hero', which told how his father had fought "with words, not weapons" two agents then tried to arrest her daughter consider 'Salafi' or 'foreign agents'. The irony of being labeled a conservative Salafi-Sunni split of Islam, the strictest, being an avowed lesbian who wears a headscarf should not even sound like a slap in the Araf house, a family well connected to both the Government and with the Brothers Muslims.

But the influences are useless in these times of repression, where everyone is suspected of betraying the dictator and his entourage. His first attempt at arrest was demonstrated. And the post of Amina dodged no politics. She declared herself politically active in remarks to The Guardian, but felt that in Syria that involves only "observe and discuss policy in private." Your daily cyber began as a kind of liberation.

"Blogging is, for me, a way of not being afraid," he said. "I think if I can 'come out' in so many ways, others can follow my example and join the movement," he said in his day. At first recounted his experiences in Syria after spending long periods in the United States, where he was born of a Syrian father and American mother.

With only six months, his family moved to the Middle East, but spent her childhood between the two countries, seasonally enemies. With 15 years was recognized lesbian and panicked: it was not until age 26 when others admit to, and not all sexual status to become an online activist. At first he used his blog to influence the many problems of regional LGBT community.

But begin to address the demonstrations demanding democratic reforms initially and later the end of the dictatorship was something natural. When perceiving wanted was already suffering from the repression. "Tear gas flying at us. I saw people throwing up by the gas while covering my mouth and my eyes burning.

(...) I am sure that I was not the only one to notice, but if this becomes a habit, a niqab (full veil) is something very practical to use in the future. " His sense of humor should not obscure the bravery of the young in a country like Syria, where homosexuality is illegal and a taboo intractable.

"It's hard being a lesbian in Syria, but is easier to be a sexual dissident political dissident, said in the interview with the Guardian last month. Like many other gay and lesbian Arabs, Amina never saw any conflict between their sexual orientation and religion. "I am a Muslim believer, prayer five times a day, fasting during Ramadan and even covered my (hair) for a decade.

I believe God made me who I am and I refuse to believe that God makes mistakes." Araf Amina refused to flee to Beirut when the repression intensified. Surely not think that one day she swelled the lists over 10,000 names of persons arrested and disappeared. Now, her father is desperately seeking, as he explains his cousin in the last entry in his blog.

"Unfortunately, there are at least 18 police groups in Syria and multiple militias and armed gangs. Do not know who's taken so do not know who to ask when returned to us," says Rula. Facebook various groups and calling for his release. Her cousin, aware of the seriousness of the problem, knows that little can be done rather than wait for news and not lose hope.

"From the experience of other relatives arrested, we believe that could be released soon. If they had wanted to kill her, they would have done. That is why we all pray."

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