Egg meet face. Or maybe not. Yesterday, your Bloguero became incensed that Syrian authorities or other bad people had seized or kidnapped Syrian Blogger Amina Abdallah, and your Bloguero rushed to post about it, not just here but at about five other sites, using a photo your Bloguero (and most of the world’s media) then thought was Amina Abdallah.
Almost immediately, the claim arose that the woman in the photo wasn’t really Amina. No, it was apparently somebody else, from England, named Jelena Lecic. OK, your Bloguero thought, somebody is trying to undercut the kidnapping story. Then your Bloguero, ever suspicious, thought, no, Amina had used somebody else’s picture so that she would not be so easily identified by Syrian police thugs. That made sense. Then your Bloguero thought, well, and maybe her nom de ecran isn’t her real name either. And then, gnawing at your Bloguero’s brain stem, the thought arose, “Ut oh. Maybe you’re gullible and maybe this whole thing is just an enormous hoax.” That ugly, reptilian thought was one your Bloguero immediately filed in his vast personal filing cabinet of ugly, reptillian thoughts.
Your Bloguero thought, “Well, let’s see what is next.” Today what was next was not pretty. MSNBC reported that Jelena Lecic claims that Amina stole her identity:
The reported disappearance of a gay Syrian-American blogger has attracted skepticism after a London woman claimed the photos published by news organizations worldwide are of her, not of the blogger, and that the blogger stole her identity a year ago.
… News sites, including msnbc.com, reported the 36-year-old writer’s disappearance on Tuesday, along with a photo of her.
On Wednesday, a London publicist said photos circulating are actually of Jelena Lecic, a Croatian woman who works as an administrator at the Royal College of Physicians in London. Lecic believes her identity has been used before by Arraf.
Jelena Lenic, who lives in London, said her photo was used alongside stories about a missing Syrian blogger. The blogger has previously claimed photos of Lecic were of her, she said.
“Just over a year ago, a friend called Jelena up and said, ‘Do you have another identity up on Facebook? Because there’s someone else who has your pictures up but not your name,” publicist Julius Just told msnbc.com. “She and her friend complained, and Facebook removed it, and she believed it was the end of the matter.”
But when news of Arraf’s disappearance broke, Just said Lecic saw her photo alongside the story in London’s Guardian newspaper. It was one of the same photos her friend had spotted on Facebook a year ago under a different profile name: Amina Abdalla Arraf….
[Lecic’s] publicist said he questioned whether Arraf was a real person.
“She could be a composite. Who knows? She claims online that she was born in the United States, but researchers can find no records of her born in the U.S.,” Just told msnbc.com. “Why would you take another woman’s identity and claim it as your own? If she is real, Jelena is extremely concerned for her and her family, but her identity has been stolen. This is a serious situation.”
Egged on by the “publicist” MSNBC reported that apparently nobody had seen Amina in person. And it wondered aloud whether she existed. It accepted without investigation that claim that there was no record of her in the US. Heaven knows how the “publicist” could know that. One thing is for sure: if she didn’t exist, the story of the kidnapping was baloney. Hmmm. That too sounded odd.
So apparently a woman who is an administrator at the London College of Physicians has a “publicist”. And that publicist is now speculating on whether or not Amina really exists. And talking about an investigation of US records about Amina. How curious.
Maybe your Bloguero should go around with a shirt with an enormous “G” for gullible stenciled on it. Maybe not. The compelling part of the story is that a blogger would be targeted by the government or thugs because of what she said and would be kidnapped or seized or maybe even disappeared. As a blogger, your Bloguero felt compelled to speak out about this. And he did. But today there is still that loud gnawing on your Bloguero’s brain stem.
Is your Bloguero (and the rest of the Blogosfero) being played for the sentimental, self righteous fool? And if he is, is this just the latest attempt by Syrian and other despotic authorities to silence the chattering Blogosfero? Or is the story a real one?
cross-posted from The Dream Antilles