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Fear...afraid...terror...Must be an election year.

Reported by Chrish - June 6, 2006

On The Big Story today 6/6/06, John Gibson began a segment saying "published reports indicate some folks in the UK are actually afraid now to fly the Union Jack. Several British businesses are taking down their flags after a series of threats from an Islamic extremist group."

He asked his guest, Heritage Foundation Fellow Nile Gardner, "Apparently businesses like hotel chains and restaurant chains are taking the flag down because it offends Muslims. How can this be?" Gardner put the non-story in perspectiuve

Note: The chyron below the segment read "Brits afraid to fly flag because of terror fears." That's a trifecta banner: afraid, fear, and terror all in one. The chyron stayed, unchanging, for over 3 1/2 minutes. Subtle as a Mack truck...

Gardner pretty much debunked Gibson's overheated rhetoric, saying that 99.9% of Brits are going to fly their flags as their team participates in the World Cup, beginning Friday. There is one Islamic extremist group, Al-Muhajiroun, whose former leader Anjem Choudary claimed "the St George flag symbolised a bloodthirsty past. He said: 'The cross does represent Christianity and for Muslims it also represents a crusader history of occupation and murder.'” Most Muslims in England are not against the flying of the English flag, however, and the chyron is quite misleading.

The biggest concern appears to be Safety fears over England car flags:

With less than a week until the start of the World Cup the debate over the use of England flags on cars heats up.

Are employers who ban the use of the flags kill joys? Or, considering the fact that employers could be ultimately liable if there was an accident involving a flag coming off the car of an employee driving for work, are they just being health and safety conscious?

Hampshire police has called on football-supporting motorists to take care when flying England flags from their vehicles. Drivers have been warned that they could face an assault charge if a flag was to fly off and hit a pedestrian. PC Derek Grist commented: "We are not trying to be killjoys, all we ask for is a little bit of consideration.''

Meanwhile the British Motorcyclists' Federation (BMF) and the RAC have warned drivers that if they want to show their support for England's football team they must make sure their flags are specially designed for car use and secured safely.

In a joint statement the organisations warned of the danger of the flags, which are often clamped into closed windows, coming loose. A spot check of the A-13 dual carriageway east of London showed an average of three fallen flags per mile, the RAC said, with a concentration at spots like entrance ramps where motorists speed up.

The decision of whether to ban the flags is a controversial one. Some employers have already taken the step of banning their use. Construction workers at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 have been told that flags are a health and safety risk because they might get caught in the wind and fly on to a runway. Northampton Borough Council has also banned their staff from flying the England flag from council owned vehicles for health and safety reasons.

This segment prompted a gmail from a News Hounds reader in England, who wrote in part

As a 'Brit' I tend not to comment on what is shown on Fox as 'news' ....yet tonight I watched as someone from the Heritage Foundation (Who they?) told me that we (British) are afraid to fly the flag. With England appearing in the tournament starting Friday thousands of flags fly from cars, houses, pubs, clubs and hotels. There are flags for sale in every supermarket, store, service station etc. So this story doesn't ring true and the cross of St. George (the flag of England ) is everywhere. The Union Flag (only called the union jack when flying from a ship by the way) is the flag of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and as only England are in the world cup you won't see much of them.

As noted above, Gardner was trying to set the story straight, another "big story" that wasn't.


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