An Eritrean minister has denounced a story about the country’s male population facing life in jail if they fail to marry at least two women as “fabricated” and "ludicrous".
The story has gained widespread attention on news sites and it has become the source of jokes and memes on Twitter.
But Eritrea’s Minister of Information, Yemane Meskel, said he was appalled by the story.
On Twitter, he said: “Media frenzy to parrot this ludicrous, fabricated & trite story of the Mufti’s presumed religious decree on mandatory polygamy is appalling.”
He then tweeted: “The story illustrates vileness of [the] dark forces of disinformation & proclivity of others to readily embrace [the] negative narrative on Eritrea [sic].”
According to Crazy World, a Kenyan news website published by The Standard, so-called activists posted a document typed in Arabic, which they claim is from the Government of Eritrea’s department of Religious Affairs, on Facebook.
In their translation, it says the department has decided that “every man shall marry at least two women and the man who refuses to do so shall be subjected to life imprisonment”.
The reason is because Eritrea is supposedly experiencing a “men shortage”, according to the document.
It goes on to state that women who prevent their husband from being polygamous also face life in prison.
Another official confirmed to the BBC that the story was a hoax: “Even a madman in Asmara [Eritrea’s capital] would know this story was not true.”