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Malala Yousafzai being interviewed by Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's The Daily Show this month. (Credit: YouTube, "Comedy Central," screenshot)

Iran’s Press TV, a government-owned TV news outlet, was hoaxed by a satire story claiming that Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who was targeted by the Taliban and was a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, has been lying about her past.

The Press TV story claimed that Malala is really a “Hungary-born girl named Jane who was born to Christian missionaries” and that her story of being attacked by the Taliban was fake.

Press TV based its story on a story, “Malala: the real story (with evidence)” published on Pakistan’s Dawn.com. Dawn’s story features a “disclaimer” that the story isn’t real. The disclaimer, at the bottom and top of the story, reads:

“The following article is a work of satire and fiction and in no way attempts to depict events in real life.”

Dawn.com’s satire story contained many ridiculous claims that would have served as red flags to most readers, alerting them that the story was bogus.  iMediaEthics won’t list all of them but below is a quick summary of the story.

The Dawn story claimed that “Malala was not born in Swat and neither is she a Pushtun.”  As evidence, Dawn.com cited a doctor who claimed he had Malala’s DNA after he treated her as a child.  The doctor is quoted as saying “after she was supposedly shot last year, I remembered I had a bottle where I had kept some of her earwax. Collecting earwax of my patients is a hobby of mine.” The doctor also claimed that he had earwax from the man who shot Malala, which contained “bits of pizza.”

The doctor went on to claim that Malala’s “real name was Jane and she was born in Hungary” to “Christian missionaries who after traveling to Swat in 2002, left Malala as a gift to her adopted parents after they secretly converted to Christianity.”  Later, the doctor said that Malala was really a pillow with a cat face on it.

Dawn.com claimed to have talked to a Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence officer about the doctor’s information and that the officer, who went by “Master X,” “wore a Spiderman mask.” That officer then quoted from Spiderman, and claimed Malala went bungee jumping “hours after the shooting.”

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Press TV has since apparently deleted its story. The link to the report now goes to a blank page. But iMediaEthics found it through Bing Cache.

iMediaEthics’ screenshot of the Press TV article. (Credit: Bing Cache/Press TV)

The Press TV story reported on the Dawn.com story as if it were fact, adding that the Dawn.com story is “an eye-opener, especially for those who ‘blindly’ trusted the ‘innocent’ looking girl; who ‘portrayed Malala Yousafzai.” Press TV went on:

“If the answer is yes, if still there are people who are not ‘convinced’ yet that it was a fabricated plan of anti-Pakistan elements to plant Malala in Swat Valley, just what should be done to change their minds now? However, the best word of advice for them is; they should first read Nadeem F. Paracha’s article ‘very thoroughly’ and only then share their respective opinion about Malala – The Fraud!”

Also, while the story is unpublished from Press TV’s website, it is re-published by Pakistan Christian Post.  And a link still pops up on Google.

iMediaEthics has reached out to Press TV and Dawn for more information and will update with any response.

Hat Tip: Andy Carvin/Robert Mackey

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Iran TV Hoaxed, Malala is NOT a Christian Hungarian Named Jane

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