LONDON: Here we present a weekly roundup of bogus reports and phony facts in the mainstream and social media.
Bogus images of Christian woman leaving Pakistan
Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy charges after eight years on death row, now has to deal with “fake” images on social media purporting to show her leaving Pakistan, AP reported.
Although it was unclear who was behind the images, which prompted death threats to a lawmaker shown in one photograph, it was likely they were intended to whip up radical religious fervor over Bibi’s case.
Some have demanded that Bibi be publicly executed, and have filed a petition to repeal her Supreme Court acquittal. The government says Bibi remains in Pakistan, at a secret location for her own protection, until the review process is finished.
Pakistani Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry slammed the “fake” postings on Monday, one of which claims to show Bibi meeting Pope Francis, AP reported. The photo is actually of Bibi’s daughter from two years ago. Bibi and her family have always maintained her innocence.
“People can even be killed because of such fake postings,” Chaudhry said. The pictures were widely circulated on social media in Pakistan and shared on several local journalists’ groups, even a police and a media group.
“We are trying to seek cooperation from Twitter and Facebook against such fake news,” Chaudhry added.
No defense for Iraq minister claims
Iraq’s National Coalition, led by Ayad Allawi, has denied the latter’s nomination for the post of minister of defense.
The coalition statement said some media outlets have recently reported statements or “leaks” claiming that Allawi has nominated himself for the position.
The office added that “the National Coalition, while calling on the media to investigate the accuracy of the news … categorically denies the validity of those rumors, and confirms that Allawi did not run for office at all, but nominated several names for this position.”
A lesson on fake news in Egypt
Egypt’s Education Minister Tarek Shawki has denied a rumor spread on social media claiming that free education will be canceled in government schools and universities.
Shawki had previously said that the issue of free education should not be left without discussion and requires reconsidering.
The minister’s remarks came during a meeting of a House of Representatives committee, sparking a storm of controversy and speculation that the minister wants to abolish free education, a right protected by Egypt’s constitution.
In an interview with Egyptian media outlets, Shawki said those who misquoted him and were behind spreading the rumor should be punished.