Freedom or Fabrication of Speech? Paris Mayor Plans to Sue Fox News

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Following the recent massacres in Paris, several news reports have been released to keep readers and viewers informed. Fox News’ reporting of the European ‘No-Go Zones’ has caused outrage; the Parisian mayor now plans to sue the television channel.

On 7th January 2015, two masked gunmen killed 11 people and injured several others in the Paris Charlie Hebdo offices, a magazine notorious for the satirical and bold cartoons it distributes. It was reported that the men exclaimed “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “God is [the]greatest”) during the attack upon civilians.

In this week, there were several other related incidents including the death of four hostages, the suicide of a policeman involved and another terrorist incident in Belgium. Dozens of anti-Muslim incidents were reported in France following the events. As a result, the majority of France and many other European countries are now at high threat levels for terrorist attacks.

These events have shocked, scared and appalled millions: around 35,000 people in Paris undertook a protest, holding “Je Suis Charlie” signs to show their condolences and anger. In addition, people from all over the world have expressed their feelings against the attacks through social media sites. Politicians including David Cameron and Tony Abbott, whose countries have both been affected by terrorism, also offered their sympathy and outrage.

However, Fox News interviewed Steve Emerson, a supposed terrorism “expert” to inform the American audience about the current situation in European cities, affected by terrorist threats. In the report that followed the deaths in Paris, he revealed that “Europe is finished”. He states that there are places in England, France, Belgium, Germany and other countries where there is ‘no sovereignty’ so there are Islam ‘states’ controlling the European cities.

Emerson continued to talk about cities, specifically Birmingham, where Islamic police can ‘beat and wound’ people who are not wearing clothes that conform to Muslim rules. As a consequence, Emerson states, there are ‘no-go zones’ all around Europe where individuals, who are not Muslim, are not allowed and do not visit. This term has been used to describe hundreds of places where non-Muslims are supposedly not permitted to enter and Sharia law dominates the country’s own legal system.

This report from Fox News caused a global outcry. Worldwide commentators labelled Fox News and Emerson as “preposterous” and “ridiculous”. David Cameron told ITV that he “choked on his porridge” when he initially heard the comments. Emmerson was interviewed on the BBC News about where his research and facts originated from; he could not give a direct answer and members of the BBC were heard laughing as he talked.

Following the worldwide responses that Fox News received, a brief “correction” was issued by the television channel. The newsreader stated that they had made “regrettable errors” and apologised to any Muslims or people in Europe that they had offended.

However, this is not sufficient for the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. She told a CNN reporter that “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”. She added that “the honour” and “the image of Paris” had been harmed from Fox News’ reports.

As of yet, no further information has been released on Hidalgo’s plans to sue the company. Michael Clemente, the executive vice-president for Fox News has stated that the mayor’s comments are “misplaced”. However, the deputy mayor of Paris, Patrick Klugman, has reinforced that Hidalgo is “definitely serious” in her plans to sue Fox News for their inaccurate information and fabrications about the city.

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