Are 'No-Go Zones' a Myth?

Recently Fox News apologized for referring to several areas in Europe as “no-go zones.” The apology followed an interview with Steven Emerson, Executive Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, who incorrectly claimed Birmingham, England was a Muslim city. The apology claimed the “no-go zone” statement was also incorrect.  Julie Banderas asserted, “we have made some regrettable errors on air regarding the Muslim population in Europe, particularly with regard to England and France. 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.”  Fox’s Jeanine Pirro, host of “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” also apologized stating, “Last week on this program a guest made a serious factual error that we wrongly let stand unchallenged and uncorrected. The guest asserted that the city of Birmingham, England, is totally Muslim and that it is a place where non-Muslims don’t go. Both are incorrect.”

It has been suggested that Fox made these apologies as a result of pressure from Saudi billionaire, Alwaleed bin Talal, a major stockholder in Fox’s parent company.  But that doesn't explain why CNN went the same way. Anderson Cooper stated, “In the wave of the Paris attacks, several guests on this program mentioned ‘no-go zones’ in France. I didn’t challenge them and twice referred to them as well. I should have been more skeptical, I won't make the same mistake again." Apparently the claim that there are “no-go zones” is now taboo. Both Media Matters and the Washington Post have declared it to be a myth.

Are “no-go zones” really a myth?  It appears to depend on the terminology used. The French government admits to 751 “Sensitive Urban Zones.” Daniel Pipes claims it would be more appropriate to describe them as “Dar al-Islam” -- the House of Islam, or a place where Islam rules. In Britain there are as many as eighty-five Sharia courts in operation.  The Dutch government has released a list of forty “no-go” zones in the Netherlands. 

Several people have commented on this sensitive subject. A senior bishop of the Church of England, Pakistani-born Michael Nazir-Ali, warned that Islamic extremists had created “no-go” areas across Britain too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter. This comment sparked a firestorm criticism.  Germany’s Chief Police Commissioner Bernhard Witthaut asserted, "Every police commissioner and interior minister will deny it. But of course we know where we can go with the police car and where, even initially, only with the personnel carrier. The reason is that our colleagues can no longer feel safe there in twos, and have to fear becoming the victim of a crime themselves. We know that these areas exist. Even worse: in these areas crimes no longer result in charges. They are left 'to themselves.' Only in the worst cases do we in the police learn anything about it. The power of the state is completely out of the picture.”

Of course, it is the government’s decision to enforce or not enforce its laws within its territory. The decision has been made to avoid conflict by allowing semi-autonomous regions within their states.  Alcohol and pork are prohibited in these areas but polygamy is not.  The Rotherham, England, child sex scandal reveals that the authorities are willing to go to great lengths to appease their Muslim constituents. 

A recurring complaint following riots is the absence of police. During the 2011 riots in Britain Home Secretary Theresa May ruled out the use of water cannons or asking for Army help. She insisted, "the way we police in Britain is not through use of water cannon. The way we police in Britain is through consent of communities." The “consent of communities" was totally ineffective.  On the other hand, “sticks” proved to be extremely effective. Like the riots in Watts it was left to immigrants to defend their property.  Hundreds of Turkish shopkeepers took to the streets in north London to defend their businesses. One man said, “This is Turkish Kurdish area. They come to our shops and we fight them with sticks.”

In order to solve a problem an issue must first be recognized as a problem. To insist that “no go zones” are a myth is a recipe for disaster.  Even when “no go zones” are recognized as a problem it is unlikely that the solutions implemented will solve the problem if the present mindset is maintained.

John Dietrich is a freelance writer and the author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy, Algora Publishing, 2013.

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