UK

Steve Emerson, Fox News 'Muslim Only Birmingham' Commentator, Defends His Record

12/01/2015 19:17 GMT | Updated 12/01/2015 22:59 GMT

The pundit who set social media alight by describing Birmingham as a "totally Muslim" city where other religions weren't welcome, has defended himself as a credible commentator, saying "my body of work speaks for itself".

Steve Emerson, who is "clearly an idiot" according to David Cameron, also claimed to have been living with death threats for nearly 20 years because of his publications and commentary.

But he admitted to Radio 4: "I made an egregious error in not doing my own home work."

On Saturday, he told Fox News: "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." He has since apologised.

The remarks triggered mocking laughter on Twitter, where people tweeted fake #FoxNewsFacts about Birmingham and the UK.

On Monday's edition of PM, host Eddie Mair asked him: "When you said that, what were you thinking?"

Mr Emerson said: "I was asked about 'no go zones' in Europe, which are a problem. I don't want to dismiss that. It's unfortunately getting worse.

"I was relying on information that was totally incorrect from sources I have relied on in the past... People I know and sources I've relied on."

Mr Emerson describes himself as a "cross between a journalist and terrorism expert" and has written and produced documentaries about Islamic extremism and national security for more than 20 years.

He defended separate comments he made in the same Fox News interview, in which he said parts of London have "Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn't dress according to Muslim, religious Muslim attire".

"I've been in contact with people in the UK... There are areas where law enforcement doesn't go into," he told PM. "But, in terms of there being entire cities in the UK, I was totally misled, misinformed."

He added: "I don't want people to use this as an agenda to claim that there is no such thing as radical Islam or that Steve Emerson has no credibility.

"I think my body of work speaks for itself. I've made a few mistakes in my career, every word I say is scrutinised."

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He continued: "There have been numerous reports about some of the vigilante Muslim groups in eastern parts of London. It's been throughout your papers, it's been talked about by your government."

Mr Mair asked what "the cruelest thing" was that Mr Emerson had heard said about himself in the social media storm that followed his Fox News appearance.

"That I 'exterminate all Muslims'. Exaggerated allegations have been made against me for years. I've been living under a death threat for 20 years, under an undisclosed address after an assassination attempt was made in 1995," he said.

"I've had death threats ever since. That's an occupational hazard. It comes from radical Islamic extremists who don't like what I say."

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Emerson during his Fox News appearance

He added: "It hasn't been pleasant (since he was on Fox News) but I deserved what I got. I'm not making amends; I don't want any pity whatsoever. I deserve whatever discomfort... It was a mistake that was inexcusable."

When asked how "damaged" he feared this would make him, Mr Emerson said: "I don't know. I hope my body of work speaks for itself over the last 25 years. I can't predict the future."

When asked whether he would ever be invited back on Fox News, he said: "I don't know, I've apologised to them for putting them in a bad position."