Eritrea has denied the unverified claims which flooded the mainstream and social media that the Eritrean government ordered men in the country to marry at least two wives or face imprisonment.
According to the BBC, an Eritrean official said “Even a madman in [the Eritrean capital] Asmara would know that this story was not true”.
The claims created a storm of hype on social media across the continent, with users posting on their intentions to relocate to the country, situated on the horn of Africa.
The publication which first wrote the story has issued a clarification, which reads more as a retraction. The publication wrote, the story “was written in jest as an entertainment piece with all disclaimers on veracity and we can now say that reading from excerpts of the Eritrean law, monogamy is actually not criminalised and instead encouraged,”
“…from the onset no malice on our part was intended whatsoever against the great Eritrean people”.
Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel took to Twitter and posted that “the media frenzy to parrot this ludicrous, fabricated and trite story… on mandatory polygamy is appalling”.
Media frenzy to parrot this ludicrous, fabricated & trite story of the Mufti's presumed religious decree on mandatory polygamy is appalling
— Yemane G. Meskel (@hawelti) January 27, 2016
In another post, Gebremeskel tweeted, “The story illustrates vileness of [the] dark forces of disinformation & proclivity of others to readily embrace [the] negative narrative on Eritrea”.
The Eritrean official also commended a publisher for retracting the false report.
The false report has highlighted the issue of professionalism and ethics within journalism. Recently, Tanzania’s government issued a statement refuting false claims widely reported in the media that President John Magufuli had banned miniskirts. The statement called on media practitioners to adhere to the highest ethical standards and observe central tenets of journalism such as fairness and accuracy.