The Volokh Conspiracy

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Fox News retracts allegations of "no-go zones" for non-Muslims in England and France


The broadest—and clearly incorrect—allegation that Fox News is retracting, from guest Steve Emerson, was "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." (Emerson has also retracted the statement, saying his "comments about Birmingham were totally in error.")

Anchor Julie Banderas at Fox said:

Over the course of this last week we have made some regrettable errors on air regarding the Muslim population in Europe—particularly with regard to England and France. This applies especially to discussions of so-called "no-go zones," areas where non-Muslims allegedly aren't allowed in and police supposedly won't go.

To be clear, there is no formal designation of these zones in either country … and no credible information to support the assertion that there are specific areas in these countries that exclude individuals based solely on their religion. There are certainly areas of high crime in Europe as there are in the United States and other countries—where police and visitors enter with caution. We deeply regret the errors and apologize to any and all who may have taken offense including the people of France and England.

Jeanine Pirro, host of the show on which Emerson made his allegation, said:

Last week on this program, a guest made a serious factual error that we wrongly let stand unchallenged and uncorrected. The guest asserted that the city of Birmingham, England, is totally Muslim and that it is a place where non-Muslims don't go. Both are incorrect.

Erik Wemple of The Washington Post adds that Pirro "went on to provide 2011 census data noting that 22 percent of the city's population self-identifies as Muslim and that there's no evidence of the whole no-go thing." (Wemple's post discusses the matter in much more detail.)

The main problem with such things, of course, isn't with "offense" to "the people of France and England" and other people "who may have taken offense." Rather, it's with misinforming viewers and others to whom the viewers might speak. Europe certainly has some problems with extremist Islam; but the focus should be on the actual problems, not on unfounded or exaggerated versions of the problems.