Satirical article about man eating his wives published as real news

Article originally published by Canadian website in 2019

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Claim: A news clipping written in Urdu states that a man who was trapped in a desert in Saudi Arabia ate two of his wives.

Fact: There is no truth to the report. It appears to be based on an English-language article published by a Canadian satirical outlet in 2019. The pictures included in that article were of Khalid Mohsin Shaeri, who was, at one point, one of the heaviest men in the world.

On 25 May 2022, Soch Fact Check received a screenshot of a post on Twitter containing a news clipping of a report in Urdu, which stated that a man trapped in a desert in Saudi Arabia consumed the flesh of two of his own wives.

The tweet containing the news clipping was posted by Twitter user @YaseenKimemes, who wrote the caption, “Jabhi sab ko 4 shadiyan karni hoti hain [That’s why everyone wishes to marry four times].”

Fact or Fiction?

The text of the news clipping is reproduced as follows:

“سعودی عرب، صحرا میں پھنسے شوہر نے اپنی دو بیویوں کو کھالیا
[Husband trapped in a desert in Saudi Arabia eats his two wives].”
“شدید بھوک تھی ، اس یقین کے ساتھ کھایا کہ مسلمان تھیں اور گوشت حلال ہوگا مصطفی حماد
[I was very hungry; I ate them with the belief that they were Muslims and their flesh was ‘Halal’, says Mustafa Hammad]”
“ریاض ( مانیٹرنگ ڈیسک ) سعودی عرب میں صحرا میں پھنس جانے والے شخص نے جان بچانے کے لیے شدید بھوک میں اپنی ہی دو بیویوں کا گوشت کھا لیا 41 سالہ سعودی شہری مصطفی
[Riyadh (Monitoring Desk) – A man trapped in a desert in Saudi Arabia ate the flesh of two of his own wives in extreme hunger to save his life. Mustafa, 41, a Saudi citizen…].”

‘Halal’ means items that are permissible under Islamic dietary laws.

Soch Fact Check searched Google using keywords from the news clipping and found a report published by World News Daily Report (WNDR), titled, “SAUDI MAN SURVIVED 13 DAYS STRANDED IN DESERT BY EATING TWO OF HIS FOUR WIVES.” WDNR is a satirical website and its ‘About Us’ section states that it “is an American Jewish Zionist newspaper based in Tel Aviv”.

The Urdu news clipping appears to be based on the WDNR article, with several social media users sharing the clipping, as well as other content from the WDNR article, as if it were real news.

In reality, however, the WDNR article is entirely satirical.

“WNDR assumes however all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website – even those based on real people –  are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any persons, living, dead, or undead is purely a miracle,” a disclaimer on the WNDR website states.

The WDNR report features two images of Khalid Mohsin Shaeri. According to various reports, including by CNN, NBC News, and Al Arabiya News, Shaeri was at one point one of the heaviest men in the world, at 1,345 pounds, and faced serious problems with obesity. There is no connection between him and Mustafa Hammad, the fictional protagonist in WNDR’s satirical article.

The satirical article also refers to a publication called the ‘Riyadh Herald’ but, based on Soch Fact Check’s online investigation, no such publication exists.

Virality

Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the period from 1 June 2018 to 1 June 2022 using the following search terms:

  • “Saudi man survived 13 days by eating two of his four wives”
  • “سعودی شوہر صحرا بیویاں”

The first search term turned up more than 8,600 interactions across 50 posts while the second one revealed four posts with almost 150 interactions.

A 2019 post on WNDR’s Facebook page sharing the article has over 900 shares and close to 400 reactions. Searching CrowdTangle using the WDNR article’s URL revealed that posts sharing the article or content from the article had received over 97,500 interactions on Facebook — including over 13,000 shares — to date.

The content from the satirical article was also shared in 2019 on addiction rehabilitation and treatment centre Willing Ways’ verified Facebook page, as well as here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. The Facebook page of ‘ProPakistani Urdu’ also shared content from the article. An article about the alleged news was also published on Urdu Point in 2019 and the Urdu news clipping was shared on Facebook here in 2021.

Conclusion: There is no truth to reports suggesting that a Saudi man stuck in the desert ate two of his wives. The false claims appear to be based on a satirical piece published by a Canadian outlet in 2019.

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