Fox News issues an on-air apology after commentator, Steve Emerson, claimed that Birmingham was a “totally Muslim” area and a no-go area for non-Muslims. Here are some of his other errors:
Steve Emerson is an award-winning documentary maker and terrorism analyst cited as an “expert” by the New York Times and US news channels. But shortly after he explained that “there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in,” he provoked outrage on social media.
The broadcaster issued an apology today over the comments, saying Emerson had made “serious factual errors”:
It’s not the first time that his punditry has proven controversial, with a number of reports, reviews and articles outlining inaccuracies in his commentary.
Emerson suggested in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombings that they were conducted by Muslims, saying, “This was done with the attempt to inflict as many casualties as possible. That is a Middle Eastern trait”, he said at the time, as noted by a Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) report. It was in fact Roman Catholic man who conducted the bombings. Emerson later apologised, saying that the comments “ended up being an albatross around my neck.”
As well as the Birmingham comments made on Fox News, Emerson also made the claim that a Muslim religious police force in London will beat “anyone who doesn’t dress according to Muslim, religious Muslim attire.” Three men were indeed jailed for harassing people in East London as part of a so-called “Muslim Patrol” but it’s not thought the ‘Muslim police’ are still active targetting people due to their attire.
He had told CNN in the wake of the 1993 World Trade centre bombing that Yugoslavs were the most likely suspects, which proved incorrect, MPAC has noted. An Al Qaeda linked Kuwaiti man was the chief architect of the attack.
Emerson had said that Ghazi Ibrahim abu Mezer, charged with bombing New York’s subway system, was part of a wider Hamas-linked terror organized. Mezer’s appeal for asylum was according to Emerson, on the basis that “he was in danger of arrest by Israeli law enforcement thanks to his membership in the Hamas organization.” But as Salon has reported, even the FBI said at the time that none of the individuals involved were members of Hamas, and Hamas said it was not involved.
American Progress, in a report on Islamophobia, stated that Emerson gave the Associated Press a dossier purported to be from the FBI that suggested links between Muslim associations in the US and radical Islamist groups. AP reporters claimed that “[Emerson] had edited out all phrases, taken out anything that made it looks like his” and said: “We couldn’t believe that document was from the FBI files.”
Through his think tank the Investigative Project on Terrorism, Emerson’s organization has suggested that 80 per cent of mosques are ruled by extremists. An American Progress report noted that this has been debunked by academic experts.
Emerson cited unnamed sources during an appearance on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News that the ‘Saudi suspect’ for the Boston bombing was being quietly deported by the government. Two Chechens became the main suspects, with one currenly standing trial for the bombing.
On social media, Steve Emerson swiftly apologised for the remarks and promised to donate money to Birmingham Children’s Hospital. It told Channel 4 News that he has indeed been in touch about making a donation.
My comments on FoxNews about Birmingham were totally inaccurate. Birmingham, please accept my apology; I was wrong.
— InvestigativeProject (@TheIPT) January 12, 2015