Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Syria: 'Let her go': Support grows for lesbian blogger's release

Online campaigns to free a Syrian-American lesbian blogger gained momentum Tuesday as thousands of people worldwide demanded her release.
Image: Amina Araf
The disappearance of Amina Arraf, a 36-year-old writer known for her frank posts about her sexuality and open criticism of Syrian President Bashar Assad's autocratic rule, prompted an outpouring of support from social network users.

Arraf wrote a blog called "A Gay Girl in Damascus," a mixture of erotic prose and updates about Syria's violent uprising, including her participation in anti-regime protests. She was detained after weeks on the run in the Syrian capital, family members said Tuesday.

As soon as Arraf's partner, Sandra Bagaria of Montreal, learned of her disappearance, she quickly turned to Twitter and Facebook for help, The New York Times reported.

By 6 p.m. ET Tuesday, The Free Amina page on Facebook had gained 8,066 followers, up from 150 followers Monday evening. Online support poured in from South America, North America, Europe, Africa and Australia.

"God Bless you, wherever you are may your courage be an example to others. Support and solidarity against repression in any form from Darjeeling, India," posted Kundan Rai on Tuesday. Minutes later, Rim Toum shared this Facebook post: "Support from Tunisia! We think about the Syrian people and wish them to gain their freedom soon."

On Petitionbuzz.com, at least 1,418 people signed an online petition calling for Arraf's release on Tuesday. "Let her go!" wrote Anabelle Vo on the site.

Attempts by msnbc.com to contact Bagaria or family members were unsuccessful Tuesday evening.