(Toledo, OH) Numerous websites - including the Drudge Report - fell victim to a piece of disinformation about the government of Iran today that was likely hatched by Iranian exiles in Canada.
Matt Drudge's site blared the headline "IRAN EYES BADGES FOR JEWS, CHRISTIANS" from about 11:00 am until 5:00 pm EST. The site has since removed the link to the original article.
The Canadian paper National Post began the rumor-mongering this morning with a report that a new law has been passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews, Christians, and other religious minorities to wear colored badges to identify them as non-Muslims.
The paper quoted Iranian expatriates living in Canada who said that that the Iranian parliament - the Islamic Majlis - passed a law this week that also set a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear nearly identical "standard Islamic garments" instead of Western-style clothing.
The paper has since taken down the story and issued a new article with the headline: "Experts say report of badges for Jews in Iran is untrue." The Drudge Report simply made the link evaporate without any explanation, and its many thousands of daily visitors have been misinformed.
Numerous Iranian sources have denounced the misleading story in the past few hours.
My calls seeking an official statement from the Iranian embassy and state news agency IRNA have been forwarded, and responses to emails I sent have yet to be answered. I have not yet received a response from Matt Drudge, either.
Michelle Malkin, who initially plunged into the story, acted in an honorable and responsible fashion by providing updates that kept readers informed of news reports debunking the story. Her 12:20 pm update noted that the "Report may not be true."
Addendum, 7:56 pm: I just received the following statement from Fariborz Jahansoozan, director of the Iranian Embassy in Washington, DC:
Dear Mr. Brooks: It is nonsense and categorically denied. Are you inquiring about the so-called article that has apparently appeared in a Canadian tabloid? Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.