News orgs repeat but don't check reports of Egyptian necrophilia law
Did you hear that Egypt's Parliament is working on a law that would allow husbands to have sex with their deceased wives?
This idea appeared in an opinion piece published in Al Ahram, Egypt's state newspaper. From there it spread, thanks to the Daily Mail's website and Huffington Post, according to a report in the Christian Science Monitor that says the so-called "farewell intercourse law" is a red herring.
Andrew Sullivan also linked to the Daily Mail story, thus adding credibility to the report. Update: His site has a follow up post that does a good job breaking down the concerns about the Mail story and the supposed legislation.
Many other sites still have reports up about the law that don't include any hedging or updates about claims that it was planted as a way to discredit Egypt's new government.
The Huffington Post has updated its story to note some claim the story is false. Strangely the update only links to the Twitter account of one person, and not to any specific tweet by her. (She previously tweeted that HuffPost would not publish her comments on the story.)
The Daily Mail's story has also been updated, though it still carries a declarative headline: "Outrage as Egypt plans 'farewell intercourse law' so husbands can have sex with DEAD wives up to six hours after their death."
The Mail piece now includes a bit of hedging in the lead: "Egyptian husbands will soon be legally allowed to have sex with their dead wives for up to six hours after their death, local media is claiming."
But that wasn't there when it was published yesterday morning.
"Egyptian husbands will soon be legally allowed to have sex with their dead wives - for up to six hours after their death," was how it read.
The story also now includes these details at the bottom of the piece:
Although reported in local media, there are some suggestions from within Egypt that the plans do not exist and were merely seeded by journalists loyal to ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
MailOnline has contacted the Egyptian Embassy and Consulate in London for comment on the claimed proposals, and is yet to receive a reply.
Hopefully some credible information about this legislation, if indeed it exists, will be forthcoming.