Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | 1,015 day ago

American TV Anchor Describes Birmingham, Badly. Twitter Responds, Incredibly.

The Debrief: A Fox News pundit tried to make it seem like Muslims have invaded the UK, but he was soon put right…

After the Paris shootings, where three assailants killed 15 people - writers and cartoonists at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the police officer trying to defend them and Jewish people at a kosher grocery and - in two separate events, there has been a lot of picking up the pieces. One form of this is the marches in France, where more than four million people turned out across the country to show unity in the face of terrorism. Another is discussion.

There are debates of every side of the argument, On one side, people say that Charlie Hebdo stood for unbridled freedom of speech - Helen Mirren, George Clooney and his wife Amal Clooney all declared 'Je Suis Charlie' in solidarity for the dead journalists at the Golden Globes yesterday. Then there are others suggesting that if we're looking for a slogan to unite behind, we should perhaps look more to Ahmed Merabet, the Muslim police officer who died defending Charlie Hebdo's right to ridicule his religion, than Charlie, a magazine that deliberately set out to offend.

Regardless of where you stand on this and any of the other interesting debates that have arisen since last week's fatalities, free speech has got to be based in fact, as one Fox News pundit has discovered.

Steven Emerson, a terrorism expert, apparently told them: '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.

'And, parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to religious Muslim attire.'

Of course, Twitter responded to this buffoon with great satire, using the hashtag #FoxNewsFacts

One great thing about this joke is there were Muslims and non-Muslims joining in and unifying in the face of extremism - in this case, extremist idiocy - to laugh at it. Another plus side is it's taught some people that free speech has some important caveats - like being correct on your facts, and not just saying things to stir up trouble. The fucked up thing? Steven Emerson - who has apologised, saying there was 'no excuse for making this mistake and I owe an apology to every resident of Birmingham' - regularly gives evidence to US congress hearings.

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Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson 

Tags: Only In America, Going viral, Race, Twitter