Today we saw some news blogs jump on an untrue story which was first reported in 2012 and debunked almost immediately after initial reports. The mainstream media even decided to join in without even bothering to check facts. The baseless news claimed that the Mufti of Saudi Arabia Shaykh Abdul Aziz Al Ash-shaykh apparently called for the destruction of churches in the gulf region.
Before right wing extremists wet their pants in excitement, they ought to have checked facts. For example they could have checked the Saudi Grand Mufti’s own websites, “Alifta” and “Mufti” for any statements from him. They could have gone to independent news outlets of Saudi Arabia such as Arab News or Saudi Gazette.
None of these websites show any statement of any kind linking the Saudi Mufti to the statement.
So where did this statement come from?
To find the origin of this story I had to scour the internet to find the first article which mentioned the news story and I found a shocking surprise.
It is a right wing extremists Christian Arabic website “Linga” which refers to the source of the story as “several Arabic news sources” of which they provide no links or references. Only there are no reports before this news story and all references refer back to Linga. So the origin of the story is the extremist website itself.
The only real story which links the Saudi Grand Mufti to any discussion on churches is where he was asked in 2012 regarding his opinion by the Kuwaiti Parliament regarding allowing new churches to be built in Kuwait, to which the Saudi Mufti gave a religious verdict discouraging it.
So the basis of the whole story was a right wing extremist Christian website – which had made the whole thing up! So next time the mainstream media need to know what the Pope said, I guess they should ask radical preacher Abu Hamza?
Is this the first time the media has been so irresponsible?
This recent barrage of lies is hardly the first time the mainstream media got it wrong on Saudi Arabia. In 2013 the mainstream media reported that a man had been banned from entering Saudi Arabia because he was too good looking. Once again upon investigation this was found to be a total hoax by the model himself. A publicity stunt by the unknown model who all of a sudden was granted millions of social media thanks to the mainstream media’s lack of fact checking. Later a Saudi cleric who was reported to have encouraged the use women as prostitutes in Syria, turned out to be another lie.
After considering all of these facts, one can be left wondering, do we live in a time where the mainstream media can no longer be trusted for news. The question arises; where can people get trusted news if the mainstream media is constantly not checking facts?