- Turkish media appears to have fallen for an April fools prank by British newspaper The Guardian.
- The Guardian published a spoof story claiming a second Suez Canal was in the works.
- Several outlets, including BBC Turkey, reported – and then deleted – the story.
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An ‘April Fools” news article claiming the United Nations is looking into building a second Suez Canal appears to have been taken wholly seriously by major Turkish media outlets.
On April 1, The Guardian published “‘Suez 2’? Ever Given grounding prompts plan for canal along Egypt-Israel border,” an article that rapidly gained attention given the current international interest in the canal.
The article said that the UN was studying the feasibility of a second channel along the Egypt-Israel border.
“The eyes and ears of the world were there! UN stepped in, rolled up sleeves for 2nd Suez Canal,” read the headline used online by major national paper Hürriyet.
T24, an online Turkish news outlet, also published the story. The pages have now been deleted, but can be found via Google’s cache.
Unfortunately, it was a spoof. The article – written by “Flora Lopi” – cited “sources” such as “Iver Shovel,” “international tunnelling company OFP Lariol,” and “Mo Sez, a regional expert in water division management.”
The Guardian went all in and created a fake Twitter account for “Flora Lopi,” who played along with the joke on social media:
-Flora Lopi (@FloraLopi) April 1, 2021
The apparent mistake was first reported by online news portal Gazete Duvar.
Middle East Eye Turkey correspondent Ragıp Soylu, who tweeted images of several print front pages that Insider has not been able to independently confirm:
-Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) April 2, 2021
The fake story created a huge buzz when first published, and “Suez 2” briefly trended on Twitter in the UK. It’s not a surprise – the Ever Given has dominated the news cycle ever since it was grounded for six days in the crucial waterway.
The 220,000-ton container ship completely blocked one of the world’s most important trading routes, choking the supply chain – and sparking endless memes. The ship was eventually freed on Monday, and the accumulated backlog of vessels is slowly passing through the channel.
The Guardian updated its story, marking it “April Fools’,” as of noon on April 1, as is traditional with spoof stories.
The BBC, T24 and Hürriyet did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
– Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story said incorrectly that Ragıp Soylu, not Gazete Duvar, was the first to spot the Turkish media’s error. This has been corrected.