Actor George Clooney had harsh words for Britain’s Daily Mail in a searing essay penned for USA Today that the paper published on its Web site Wednesday morning.
At issue was a recent article in which the British newspaper said that the mother of Clooney’s betrothed, Amal Alamuddin, was against their upcoming marriage because Clooney is not Druze, a small Middle-Eastern religion with communities in Lebanon and Syria. Alamuddin is a British-Lebanese human rights barrister in London. The Daily Mail, citing “close family friends,” reported Alamuddin’s mother, Baria, wanted her to marry someone Druze.
Quoting another unnamed “Lebanese friend of the family,” the Mail reported Baria Alamuddin didn’t think Clooney was good enough for her daughter, and that she “has been telling half of Beirut, in fact anyone that will listen, there are five hundred thousand Druze. Are none of them good enough?”
However, what sent Clooney over the edge were these two paragraphs:
There can be harsh penalties for those Druze who marry outsiders. Several women have been murdered for disobeying the rules. Last year a Sunni Muslim man had his penis severed by the male relatives of a Druze woman who defied her family by marrying him.
The friend added: ‘There have a been a few jokes in the family about the same thing happening to George!’
I seldom respond to tabloids, unless it involves someone else and their safety or well being. The Daily Mail has printed a completely fabricated story about my fiancée’s mother opposing our marriage for religious reasons. It says Amal’s mother has been telling “half of Beirut” that she’s against the wedding. It says they joke about traditions in the Druze religion that end up with the death of the bride.
Let me repeat that: the death of the bride.
First of all, none of the story is factually true. Amal’s mother is not Druze. She has not been to Beirut since Amal and I have been dating, and she is in no way against the marriage — but none of that is the issue. I’m, of course, used to the Daily Mail making up stories — they do it several times a week — and I don’t care. If they fabricate stories of Amal being pregnant, or that the marriage will take place on the set of Downton Abbey, or that I’m running for office, or any number of idiotic stories that they sit at their computers and invent, I don’t care.
But this lie involves larger issues. The irresponsibility, in this day and age, to exploit religious differences where none exist, is at the very least negligent and more appropriately dangerous. We have family members all over the world, and the idea that someone would inflame any part of that world for the sole reason of selling papers should be criminal.
Despite the Mail’s specious claims, Nina Clooney, George’s mother, and Baria Alamuddin were photographed shopping together amicably Sunday in Lake Como, Italy, where Clooney owns a villa. Both Amal and George come from journalistic backgrounds; in his USA Today piece, Clooney referenced his father’s occupation as a “newsman,” which he’s talked about before when it comes to his own political literacy. Amal’s mother is the foreign editor of Al-Hayat, a leading pan-Arab newspaper. Clooney has frequently involved himself in politics, lending behind-the-scenes support to President Obama’s campaigns. He’s also used his celebrity to draw attention to humanitarian crises in Darfur, Sudan, and South Sudan, eventually getting arrested for civil disobedience while protesting outside the Sudanese embassy.
*A spokesman for MailOnline responded Wednesday morning at 8:05 a.m. EDT:
The MailOnline story was not a fabrication but supplied in good faith by a reputable and trusted freelance journalist. She based her story on conversations with a long standing contact who has strong connections with senior members of the Lebanese community in the UK and the Druze in Beirut.
We only became aware of Mr Clooney’s concerns this morning and have launched a full investigation. However, we accept Mr Clooney’s assurance that the story is inaccurate and we apologise to him, Miss Amal Alamuddin and her mother, Baria, for any distress caused.
We have removed the article from our website and will be contacting Mr Clooney’s representatives to discuss giving him the opportunity to set the record straight.