The web wonders about the identity of a Syrian-American blogger detained in Syria. Citizens take to the streets of Macedonia to denounce police brutality. And a woman has pictures of her Facebook friends tattooed on her arm.
Questions about Syrian-American blogger after her disappearance
Who is Amina, author of the blog « A gay girl in Damascus »? More and more people are questioning if she actually exists after a person claiming to be her cousin announced on her blog a few days ago that she had been taken away by Syrian security forces in Damascus.
Amina started her blog in February, relating what it is like living as a homosexual in Damascus and relaying news of the protest movement against the Syrian regime. She describes herself as a 35 year old woman, born in the US, with Syrian-American dual nationality. A month ago she wrote that she was now in hiding after being visited at home twice by security forces.
As soon as her disappearance was announced, a campaign called « Free Amina » was launched on social networks, demanding her release.
The US embassy in Damascus is currently trying to confirm her identity before approaching the Syrian authorities. And Andy Carvin meanwhile, an American journalist and social media expert, is carrying out his own investigations. In this message, he says he has not been able to find anyone who has actually met the blogger face to face.
The plot thickens: even more so as a woman from London called Jelena Lecic has said the photos being used online, claiming to be pictures of Amina, are actually her.
The Facebook group set up to support the blogger, which has near to 15 000 members, is reminding web users that cyber activists in Syria often use pseudonyms as they fear they will be punished, and so campaigning for the blogger Amina must continue, regardless of who she actually is.
Protests against police brutality in Macedonia
As this online amateur footage shows, thousands of citizens took to the streets of Macedonia’s capital Skopje this week, to protest against the death of a young man on Sunday as parliamentary elections were underway. 22 year old Martin Neshkovski was allegedly beaten to death by a member of the security forces, sparking fierce reactions across the country, where citizens are now mobilizing to denounce police brutality and demand the affair be thoroughly investigated.
The movement is being largely coordinated via the web and social networks. Numerous Facebook groups have been set up, like this one, calling upon the people of Macedonia to protest against police violence and not let this crime go unpunished. And Twitter users have also joined the movement, notably by using the key word #martin to obtain information on the enquiry or on the upcoming demonstrations scheduled across the country.
The authorities have not taken too kindly to the rallies and are now trying to stop them. Numerous Facebook pages set up to coordinate anti-police demonstrations have been closed down in recent days and a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry has warned that blogs and other sites inciting violence against security forces will be blocked.
But despite all this, Macedonians are continuing their campaign for justice for Martin Neshkovski. This anonymous blogger has written an open letter to the members of the Macedonian parliament, asking them to make changes to the current law which does not impose, in his opinion, enough controls on police activity in the country. He also asks for tougher sanctions on police officers who commit crimes.
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Stephen Harper’s cat
Web users have voted. Stephen Harper’s new cat will be called Stanley. The Canadian Prime Minister offered the public the chance to decide on his cat’s name by voting for their favourite on his Facebook page. Over 10 000 people took part, with some proposing different names than the six they had to choose from.
Video of the day
This American woman decided to have the profile pictures of her 152 closest Facebook friends tattooed on to her arm. She says she asked them all for their permission before getting this one of a kind tattoo. What the young woman will do if one of her friends decides to change their social network profile picture is something else altogether.