Elham Asaad Buaras
The Fox News terrorism ‘expert’ who claimed that Birmingham is “totally Muslim” and closed to non-Muslims triggered a viral reaction with many people taking to social media to ridicule his dazzling error.
The twitter hashtag #foxnewsfacts started trending nationwide with users posting photos of Mecca Bingo, the Queen wearing a headscarf and bearded football manager Roy Keane to mock the bizarre statement made by Steve Emerson on the right-wing US network.
The storm started when Emerson, who regularly briefs the US Government and Congress on terrorism, was participating in a Fox News discussion on January 11 in the wake of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo’s office in Paris. “In Britain, it’s not just no-go zones,” he told millions of viewers. “There are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in.” “You know what it sounds like to me, Steve?” said the show’s concerned host, Jeanine Pirro. “It sounds like a caliphate.”
Birmingham is home to just over a million people, of which roughly 46 per cent identify as Christian and just over 20 per cent identify as Muslim, according to the 2011 census. Emerson, author of six books and a documentary on ‘Jihad in America’, has been forced to issue a groveling apology to Brummies and has pledged a donation to the Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Emerson compounded the incident when three days after the initial gaffe he compared his ordeal to waterboarding. Appearing on Sky News to apologise for what he called his “sloppy research”, Emerson said, “Hearing it over when you played it was like waterboarding, I guess,” he said.
The apology did not stop Prime Minister, David Cameron, of branding Emerson “a complete idiot”, adding he choked on his porridge when he first heard the gaffe, “I thought it must be April Fool’s Day”.
Journalist Richard Adams tweeted a photograph of Roy Keane, former assistant manager of Aston Villa who now sparks a large beard, writing: “Dangerous bearded fanatics have a history of running Birmingham’s sporting institutions.” Cricket writer James Marsh posted a picture of bearded England star Moeen Ali with the caption: “Terrifying photo of how a typical Muslim from Birmingham guards the city gates against infidels.”
One tweeter sent out a photo of a Meccano box, adding: “British toy manufacturer threatened with fatwa after writing Mecca-no on construction kit boxes.” Mark Ferguson wrote: “The Vicar of Dibley was reproduced for transmission in Birmingham as The Imam of Dudley.” And BBC DJ Nihal joked: “Ozzy Osborne was part of a Muslim sleeper cell known as Black Shaheed. Ozzy short for Osman.”
Professional comedians also got in on the trend. Al Murray tweeted: “Ming the Merciless is named after the centre of Birmingham.” Politician Tom Copley weighed in with a pun, writing: “Birmingham has a chain of fast food restaurants called Burqa King.”
Another joker, Wes White, started a petition on Change.org with the title “Let non-Muslims back in to the city of Birmingham.” He wrote: “Birmingham had loads of non-Muslims in the last time I was there, so this is a real shock. We call upon the city of Birmingham and other non-specified British cities to once again allow non-Muslims to roam their streets.”
Most residents of the city have stood up for their home, praising its diversity and denying that there are significant problems between the different races living there.
Fox News apologized four times on January 17.