AN AMERICAN news commentator has been forced to apologise after claiming Birmingham, Britain’s second city, was a “no-go” zone for non-Muslims, live on air.
Steven Emerson said “there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim, where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in”, while appearing on the Fox News channel.
His comments were broadcast live on the network to households around the globe.
Residents of Birmingham quickly took to social media to pillory Mr Emerson, whose own website states he is is an “internationally recognized expert on terrorism and national security”.
He later apologised for his “terrible error” regarding “the beautiful city of Birmingham” and suggested the remarks had been down to “other sources”.
Mr Emerson also stated his intention to make a donation to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
According to most recent census data from 2011, the city of more than one million residents has a Muslim population of about 234,000 (21.8%).
During the weekend broadcast, while discussing the recent terror attacks in Paris, Mr Emerson said: “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.”
Turning his opinions on the UK capital, he then told Fox News host Jeanine Pirro: “And parts of London there are actually Muslim religious police who beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to Muslim religious attire.”
Ms Pirro appeared to take Emerson’s remarks at face value, making no attempt to correct him.
A full transcript containing the erroneous comments was still available on Mr Emerson’s website last night, despite his earlier apology and a pledge to publish a correction online.
Angry readers, some from Birmingham, posted comments on the site accusing him of “speaking nonsense”.
Simon Higgins wrote: “This is the most delusional garbage I have encountered on the web in a long time.
“I can only speak for the UK, but let me tell you, there are no Muslim ‘no-go’ areas here. Anywhere.”
Another said: “I am a white male from Birmingham, UK. To say the city is totally Muslim and a no-go zone is utter rubbish.
“Yes there are a large number of Muslims in the city, but pretty much every nation on Earth is represented, with the majority of areas integrated pretty well.”
One man wrote: “Please stop talking nonsense about my country.”
On Twitter the #FoxNewsFacts hashtag was used by bemused residents, who wasted no time in making fun of the US news channel by posting images of the city’s landmarks sites like the Selfridges department store and the Library of Birmingham and querying if Fox News thought these were mosques.
Andy Gilderdale tweeted: “The new rail line into Birmingham is known as “Hijab Speed 2” and in sympathy with Islamic tradition will never make a Prophet #FoxNewsFacts”.
Travel publisher Rough Guides named Birmingham as one of its Top 10 Cities to visit in the world in its most recent edition.
Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg was among those who went on Twitter to mock the comments.
He wrote: “’Birmingham’ spelt backwards means ‘Islamic State’ in Swedish. (No it doesn’t but don’t let #foxnewsfacts get in the way of a good story).”
He later added: “Newly discovered #foxnewsfacts reveal that classic Three Musketeers was really about 3 Brummy Mujahids known to US author Alexander Dumbass.”
And Mr Begg later wrote: “US soldiers told me Britons reminded them of Mr Bean. I told them Americans reminded me of Dumb & Dumber.”
Birmingham-born Adil Ray, who created and stars in BBC One sitcom Citizen Khan, tweeted: “Some new Birmingham districts: Five Prays, King Abdullah Standing and Prayer Hall Green. #FoxNewsFacts”
Comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar, star of sketch show Goodness Gracious Me, said: “During summer months, men w/ padding & helmets armed w/ bats and stumps regularly Mullah visitors in a field called Edgbaston #FoxNewsFacts” adding: “The Archers, M6, M5 and UB40 are all weapons made in and around #Birmingham #FoxNewsFacts”
BBC Asian Network DJ Nihal tweeted: “Ozzy Osborne was part of a Muslim sleeper cell known as Black Shaheed. Ozzy short for Osman #foxnewsfacts”.
And Black (Shaheed) Sabbath bass player Geezer Butler, tweeted: “#foxnewsfacts Obviously an oxymoron.”
Comedian Al Murray tweeted: “Ming the Merciless is named after the centre of Birmingham #foxnewsfacts”
And fellow comic David Schneider said: “Having imposed strict dietary laws on Birmingham, Jews and Muslims have now renamed it Birming #foxnewsfacts”.