A terrorism commentator became the butt of an ongoing Twitter joke after suggesting Birmingham was a “Muslim-only” city where non-Muslims feared to venture during a segment on Fox News.
The hashtag #foxnewsfacts satirised Steve Emerson’s error with an unrelenting hint of British humour. But in the spirit of accuracy, Birmingham (with a population of just over one million) is just 21.8 per cent Muslim (234,411). Christianity remains the dominant religion (46.1 per cent) and non-belief accounts for a nearly a fifth of residents.
Census data is a good measure of religious identity but it comes with the caveat of being a non-compulsory census question, as 6.5 of residents chose not to disclose religious identity.
Steve Emerson also claimed ‘religious police’ attack non-Muslims in London. But a quick interrogation of that claim also falls short. That is not to dismiss the appalling actions of Jordan Horner, 19, Ricardo MacFarlane, 26, and an unnamed 23-year-old who assaulted and verbally abused individuals in East London for ‘sinful’ behaviour.
But to validate an idiotic and hateful group of self-styled vigilantes with the label ‘religious police’ vastly overstates their importance and sense of authority. The individuals rightfully went to prison for their actions.
A deliberate intellectual ‘sleight of of hand’ hints at not frank stupidity but something more unpleasantly calculating. Emerson is no stranger to controversy. In 2011, the ‘Fear, Inc.’ report named Emerson’s think tank (the Investigative Project on Terrorism) among the five groups ‘orchestrating the majority of anti-Islam messages polluting our national discourse.’ Other names on the list included: Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy, David Yerushalmi at the Society of Americans for National Existence, Daniel Pipes at the Middle East Forum, and Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch and Stop Islamization of America.
On a lighter note, here are some amusing tweets under the #foxnewsfacts hashtag:
— Pavilion Opinions (@pavilionopinion) January 11, 2015
— Sarah M (@sazza_jay) January 11, 2015
— Michael Moran (@TheMichaelMoran) January 12, 2015
— Rabeb Othmani (@Rabeb_Othmani) January 11, 2015
It's said the name 'One Direction' was chosen by the Muslim group member, Zain Malik, in reference to the Muslim prayer. #FoxNewsFacts
— Raz (@raztweets) January 11, 2015
— Jewman (@jumanutd) January 11, 2015
The UK's Muslim fifth column is organized politically under the name "United Kingdom Islamic Party", or UKIP for short. #FoxNewsFacts
— Tom Doran (@portraitinflesh) January 11, 2015
Emerson later apologised for his error and promised to donate money to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.