Algerian newspaper El Hayat shocked readers claiming that anti-mass migration Front National leader Marine Le Pen was planning to build a wall around France if she wins the upcoming presidential election – but the story was fake.
The original story, “Marine Le Pen proposes to surround France with a wall paid by Algeria”, was published earlier this week by Le Gorafi, a satirical website akin to The Onion. The fake story appeared on the front page of Tuesday’s edition of El Hayat with a picture of the Front National leader and told Algerians they were going to pay for the wall, L’Express reports.
In the original story, Ms Le Pen is said to have made the proposal as part of her “144 commitments to France” which she made during the official announcement of her campaign in Lyon. The fictional proposal number 117, the site said, is “galvanised” by the election of U.S. President Donald J. Trump and claimed Le Pen had referred to Algeria as “our Mexico”.
The site also said Le Pen had told the president of Algeria Abdelaziz Bouteflika to raise the money himself because “misery, delinquency and radical Islam are unfortunately not taxable”.
After seeing that El Hayat had ran with their fake story, Le Gorafi took to Twitter claiming they had bought the Algerian newspaper and wrote that it was “one more step in our strategy of global media”.
Nous confirmons le rachat du journal El Hayat en Algérie par le Gorafi News Network, une étape de plus dans notre stratégie de globalmédia.
— Le Gorafi (@le_gorafi) February 14, 2017
The incident is not the first time the site has tricked media into printing its satirical news stories. In 2013, Italian media were duped by a story that said most French men thought a clitoris was a model of Toyota.
In the about section of Le Gorafi, the site makes its satirical nature clear saying, “All the articles related here are false (until proof to the contrary) and written for a humorous purpose. The use of names of personalities or companies is purely satirical.”
Media in the Arab world have reacted particularly negatively to the rise of populist parties across Europe over the last year. In May of 2016, Arab media claimed the German anti-mass migration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party was waging a war against the religion of Islam itself after the AfD announced intentions to ban the full-face Islamic veil.
The so-called “fake news” phenomenon manifested itself earlier this week when the German tabloid newspaper Bild was forced to apologise for reporting a story in which they claimed a gang of Arab men had terrorised a Frankfurt restaurant and sexually assaulted women on New Year’s Eve.