Paris Mayor Anne Hidaldo has threatened to take Fox News to court in response to false reports about alleged “no-go zones” for non-Muslims in Paris.
Live and Invest Overseas staffers that have recently been to Paris’ so-called “no-go zones” confirm that the allegations are unfounded, saying that no religious impositions were encountered in the area.
“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,” Paris’ mayor said during an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “The image of Paris has been prejudiced, and the honor of Paris has been prejudiced.”
The mayor’s passionate response was in response to reports that appeared on Fox, alleging that certain areas of Paris predominated by Muslims were off limits to non-Muslims, including police. One self-proclaimed national security expert with a history of past inaccuracies, Steve Emerson, stated on Fox’s “Justice With Jeanine Pirro” that areas in France were “safe havens” where “governments … don’t exercise sovereignty, so you basically have zones where Sharia courts are set up … and where it’s basically a separate country.” Emerson made similar tenuous claims about areas in England.
Fox later issued an unusual retraction, delivered by anchor Julie Banderas, stating, “Over the course of this last week we have made some regrettable errors on air regarding the Muslim population in Europe—particularly with regard to England and France. This applies especially to discussions of so-called ‘no-go zones,’ areas where non-Muslims allegedly aren’t allowed in, and police supposedly won’t go. To be clear, there is no formal designation of these zones in either country, and no credible information to support the assertion there are specific areas in these countries that exclude individuals based solely on their religion.” The retraction accompanied Emerson’s own apology for his erroneous statements, for which U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron called him a “complete idiot.”
Fox was also forced to backtrack on claims made on its network that 69% of French Muslims supported ISIS, with anchor Eric Shawn stating, “We at Fox News have subsequently determined that that poll is not credible, and should not have been used or referred to, and we apologize for that error.”
Despite the rare retractions from Fox News, the network’s executive vice-president called the mayor’s threat of a lawsuit “misplaced.”
A lawsuit against Fox News on behalf of the city of Paris would is unlikely given that U.S. law doesn’t recognize the rights of cities, states, or other governmental bodies to sue for defamation. Furthermore, it would need to be proven that Fox News has a presence in France in order for the courts there to exercise any jurisdiction over the network.