They say that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has the chance to put its shoes on. In this case, a lie went viral, was one of the top stories on Reddit, and was used to slander a president before the truth came out.
The backstory: Mike Hager, a U.S. citizen, said that his mother was stuck in Iraq due to President Trump's executive order restricting immigration and visa holders from certain countries. Hager claimed his mother, Naimma, who was very sick, was not allowed to travel to the U.S. on Friday despite having a green card. She then passed away in Iraq the next day.
"The immigration told us that the President of the United States put an order right now - you guys cannot go," he told FOX 2's Amy Lange.
Hager said he was traveling with his niece, two nephews, and his 75-year-old mother, Naimma, home to Michigan. He said they traveled to Iraq to visit family and when she fell ill but didn't expect it to be a problem for the family to travel since they all had green cards and had lived in the United States for 20 years.
"I was just shocked. I had to put my mom back on the wheelchair and take her back and call the ambulance and she was very very upset. She knew right there if we send her back to the hospital she's going to pass away - she's not going to make it," Hager said.
As it turns out, the real reason why Hager's mother wasn't permitted to fly to the United States on Friday was because she had been dead for five days.
Hager's Imam confirmed on Wednesday that the original story was not accurate and that Naimma had passed away on January 22. Fox 2 was able to confirm the date of death as well.
Imam Husham Al-Hussainy, leader of the Karbalaa Islamic Educational Center in Dearborn, says Mike Hager's mom did not pass away this weekend after being barred from traveling to the United States. The Imam confirms that Hager's mother died before the ban was put in place.
After the story aired on FOX 2 and was posted on FOX2Detroit.com, we received many questions about the validity of Hager's claims that his mother died waiting to be approved to come home. FOX 2 has confirmed that his mother died five days earlier.
According to Al-Hussainy, Hager's mother had kidney disease and was receiving treatment in Michigan - where she lived - before traveling to Iraq to visit family. The Imam said she passed away on January 22, 2017, five days before President Trump instituted the travel ban.
I mean, why lie? The truth would have come out eventually. It's another story altogether as to why a grieving son would politicize his mother's death, but come on now. Shame on everyone involved in this story, and kudos to FOX 2 for doing the sometimes-awkward work of having to fact check a death.
This story has been updated with additional commentary.