Citizens in the United Kingdom — including Prime Minister David Cameron — are expressing frustration with Saturday’s episode of the Fox News show Justice with Judge Jeanine, blasting one of the show’s guests for making wildly inaccurate claims about Islam and a British city.
In a segment meant to discuss “no-go zones” — or regions in Europe that are supposedly off-limits to non-Muslims — host Jeanine Pirro called on guest Steven Emerson, a Fox News terrorism “expert” whose career is riddled with hyperbolic claims, inaccurate reporting, and even suspicious financial arrangements. After riffing on “no-go zones” as “a country within a country,” Emerson specifically cited the British city of Birmingham as home to a population that is “totally Muslim.”
“And in Britain, it’s not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in,” he said. “And parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to Muslim, religious Muslim attire. So there’s a situation that Western Europe is not dealing with.”
Check out a video of the exchange — complete with Pirro’s seemingly horrified reaction to Emerson’s remarks — below:
Unfortunately for Emerson, almost all of his claims are either unsubstantiated or wildly inaccurate. Birmingham’s Muslim population is large, but still doesn’t even make up a quarter of the city: according to the 2011 UK census, 21.8 percent of Birmingham is Muslim, compared to 46.1 percent that are Christian and 19.3 percent that don’t identify with any religion. Emerson’s assertion that Birmingham’s Muslim population is “a country within a country” is also dubious, and vague descriptions of “Muslim religious police” who “beat” and “wound seriously” people in London is unprovable without specific examples.
Emerson later apologized for his comments, which he admitted were “totally in error.”
Emerson’s efforts weren’t enough to avoid the swift backlash from residents in the UK, however. One of the first to weigh in was none other than UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who railed against Emerson on ITV News.
“When I heard this, frankly, I choked on my porridge and I thought it must be April Fool’s Day,” Cameron said. “This guy’s clearly a complete idiot.”
Cameron went on to hail Birmingham as an ideal city in part because of its large Muslim population.
“Now, [Emerson] started with an apology,” he said. “That’s not a bad start, but what he should do is actually look at Birmingham and see what a fantastic example it is of bringing people together of different faiths, different backgrounds, and actually building a world-class, brilliant city with a great and strong economy.”
Birmingham residents and average British citizens were also outraged by Emerson’s inaccurate claims, and the negative response to his comments quickly became so intense on Twitter that it gave birth to its own satirical hashtag “#FoxNewsFacts.”
A few tweets from the hashtag can be seen below:
— mohamed ali (@momoally) January 12, 2015
— Malcolm Coles (@malcolmcoles) January 11, 2015
— Pavilion Opinions (@pavilionopinion) January 11, 2015
— obaid (@obaid197) January 12, 2015
— Anas Abbas (@Anas_Abbas1) January 12, 2015
An earlier version of this article referenced the Twitter feed @FoxNewsPress, saying that Fox News had used the account to issue a retraction. That Twitter handle turns out to have been a fake, and the account appears to have been taken down by Twitter Monday morning. As such, it appears that neither Fox News nor Jeanine Pirro have issued retractions for Emerson’s comments on Twitter.