Fox News has provided French journalists with meaty comedy material via its claim that Paris harbors no-go zones where Sharia law is observed. But Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo isn’t laughing. In fact, she told CNN today she plans to sue Fox News for defaming the city with these claims.
“The image of Paris has been prejudiced, and the honor of Paris has been prejudiced (…) 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 correspondent Christiane Amanpour.
Fox News, part of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, had invited self-proclaimed terrorism expert Steven Emerson on one of its program segments in the wake of the attacks at Charlie Hebdo and the kosher market in Paris as part of its coverage of those events Jan. 11.
Michael Clemente, Fox News’ Executive Vice President of News, issued a statement in response to the suit.
“We empathize with the citizens of France as they go through a healing process and return to everyday life. However, we find the Mayor’s comments regarding a lawsuit misplaced.”
In the segment, Emerson said there were “no-go zones” in France and England entirely populated by Muslims where Sharia law ruled and police could not enter. Fox News then issued an on-air apology Jan. 12 for Emerson’s comments, admitting they were entirely false.
Fox News’ “no-go zone” story has become a running joke for French TV journalists. Canal Plus’ primetime show “Le Petit Journal” has been particularly creative in delivering sketches mocking the network’s reporting.
On Jan 19 the satirical “Journal,” hosted by Yann Barthes and inspired by Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” ran a segment with all the apologies (for insulting women, Asians and other minorities) that Fox has issued over the years. The French show also aired a parody of two Fox News reporters who visit Paris and are terrified by everything they see, even a random student sporting a beard.
Many commentators in France have also noted that Fox News’ no-go zone claims also perpetuated an anti-Islam sentiment that is already rampant in most of Europe.
In the wake of the attacks that were orchestrated by Al Qaeda and killed 17 in Paris, Murdoch tweeted: “Muslims must be held accountable until they destroy their growing jihadist cancer.” Hit by an avalanche of criticism, Murdoch then tweeted, “Certainly did not mean all Muslims responsible for Paris attack. But Muslim community must debate and confront extremism.”