NEW YORK (Reuters) - Actor George Clooney criticized Britain's Daily Mail on Wednesday for publishing a "completely fabricated" story saying his future mother-in-law is against his upcoming marriage to human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin.
The story published online but not in the newspaper said Alamuddin's mother was telling family in Beirut that she is not happy about the wedding for religious reasons and that her daughter could do better by marrying into the family's Druze religion.
"First of all, none of the story is factually true," Clooney, who does not usually respond to media reports about his private life, wrote in the newspaper USA Today.
"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," he added.
The issue, he said, is that the story said that because the Clooney nuptials will not be a Druze wedding, Alamuddin could be cast out of the community. Women have been murdered for not abiding by the Druze religious rules, the MailOnline's story added.
"The irresponsibility in this day and age, to exploit religious differences where none exist is at the very least negligent and more appropriately dangerous," the Oscar-winning actor wrote.
Clooney, 53, added that the couple have family members around the world and that publishing such a story should be criminal.
The MailOnline issued a statement apologizing to Clooney, his fiancée and her mother for any distress the story caused and said it has launched a full investigation.
"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," the statement said.
It added that the story was supplied by a trusted freelance journalist and was based on her contacts with senior members of the Lebanese community in Britain and Beirut.
The MailOnline story was not published in the print edition of the newspaper. The print newspaper and the online edition are run separately.
Clooney and Alamuddin have been dating since October, according to media reports. News of their engagement was confirmed in April when Alamuddin's London law firm issued a statement congratulating the couple.
(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Additional reporting by Kate Holton in London; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)