Paris to Sue Fox News over Muslim ‘No-Go Zone’ Lies
City council members in Paris have voted to approve a lawsuit against Fox News Channel, the conservative US network which lied when it claimed there were “no-go zones” in the French capital where non-Muslims are unwelcome and Sharia law reigns supreme.
The Guardian reports the council voted in favor of the lawsuit against the notorious US network, the most popular news channel in the United States and also the most trusted, according to a June 2014 Public Religion Research Institute/Brookings Institution poll.
But PolitiFact, a non-partisan watchdog project launched by the Tampa Bay Times, recently revealed that only 22 percent of statements made by Fox News were “true” or “mostly true,” 18 percent were “half true” and fully 60 percent were either “mostly false,” “false” or “pants on fire” lies.
In supporting the lawsuit, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, a Socialist, said “the image” and “honor of Paris” was jeopardized by Fox News’ lies.
“I’ve received a lot of encouragements from Americans to try to make this kind of nonsense stop,” Hidalgo was quoted in the French press on Thursday. “I don’t accept insults to our city and its inhabitants.”
“When we’re insulted, and when we’ve had an image, then I think we’ll have to sue, I think we’ll have to go to court, in order to have these words removed,” Hidalgo told CNN last month.
In the wake of last month’s Islamist terrorist attacks in Paris, Fox News hosts and analysts repeatedly asserted the existence of hundreds of “no-go zones” in and around the French capital where non-Muslims and even police dare not venture. Neighborhoods including Belleville, Barbès and Père-Lachaise were all named as off-limits.
Individual Fox hosts also lied about their role in propagating the “no-go zones” myth. Bill O’Reilly, host of the network’s most popular program, The O’Reilly Factor, responded to the news of the impending lawsuit by claiming he “didn’t have anything to do” with disseminating the lies. But on January 9, O’Reilly cited the alleged forbidden areas as one of the causes of the terrorist attacks.
Fox News hosts and guests also lied about “no-go zones” in other European cities. ‘Terrorism expert’ Steven Emerson made the ludicrous claim that the city of Birmingham, England is “entirely Muslim.”
“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 falsely claimed, adding that in “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 attire.” Emerson provided no evidence to support his claims.
In a rare public rebuke, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative, blasted Emerson as an “idiot.”
“When I heard this frankly I choked on my porridge and I thought it must be April Fools’ Day,” Cameron said. “This guy’s clearly a complete idiot.”
As its latest lies gained international attention, Fox News was forced to air a retraction. Emerson apologized, saying he “made an inexcusable error.” Fox correspondent Julie Banderas also apologized for the network’s coverage “regarding the Muslim population in Europe” in the days after the terrorist attacks.
But the apology and retraction have not satisfied Hidalgo, who has France’s stringent defamation laws on her side.
A lawyer for Fox News told the Guardian that the network “will invoke every protection afforded it under all applicable laws.” The attorney called the impending Paris lawsuit “antithetical to free speech.”
In the United States, news programs are not legally required to tell the truth, allowing outlets like Fox News to flourish as they pander to the desires of their audiences in order to maintain high ratings.