"No-go area" (or "no-go zone") is an area that has a reputation for violence and crime which makes people frightened to go there, an area in a town barricaded off to civil authorities by a force such as a paramilitary, or an area barred to certain individuals or groups. It has also been used to refer to areas undergoing insurgency where ruling authorities have lost control and are unable to enforce sovereignty.
Some fact-checking and news organizations have criticized use of the term "no-go zone" as locations supposedly operating under Sharia Law in Europe, calling it a "myth" or falsehood; however, the locations may be deemed unsafe to travel at night and difficult to police.
- 1 Historic no-go zones
- 2 Alleged contemporary no-go areas
- 3 Alternative Views
- 4 See also
- 5 References
Historic no-go zones
With no government enforcement from the British colonial government aside from a few raids by the Hong Kong Police, the Walled City became a haven for crime and drugs. It was only during a 1959 trial for a murder that occurred within the Walled City that the Hong Kong government was ruled to have jurisdiction there. By this time, however, the Walled City was virtually ruled by the organised crime syndicates known as Triads. Beginning in the 1950s, Triad groups such as the 14K and Sun Yee On gained a stranglehold on the Walled City's countless brothels, gambling parlors, and opium dens. The Walled City had become such a haven for criminals that police would venture into it only in large groups.
During the Troubles, the term was applied to urban areas in Northern Ireland where the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and British Army could not operate openly. Between 1969 and 1972, Irish nationalist/republican neighborhoods in Belfast and Derry were sealed-off with barricades by residents. The areas were policed by vigilantes and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) operated openly. The most notable no-go area was Free Derry.
The areas' existence was a challenge to the authority of the British government. On 31 July 1972, the British Army demolished the barricades and re-established control in Operation Motorman. It was the biggest British military operation since the Suez Crisis. Although the areas were no longer barricaded, they remained areas where the British security forces found it difficult to operate and were regularly attacked. As a result, they entered only in armored convoys and in certain circumstances, such as to launch house raids. Police presence in these areas remained contentious into the 2000s and the main republican political party, Sinn Féin, refused to support the police. In 2007, however, the party voted to support the new Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) were in actuality no-go areas for the Pakistani authorities, where the Pakistani police could not enter. The situation was changed temporarily with the United States invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, when the Pakistani government was supported by U.S. military forces. However, the areas reverted again into no-go zones with the 2005 Taliban resurgence. Even today, the FATA region is outside the jurisdiction of Pakistani law.
The term "no-go area" has a military origin and was first used in the context of the Bush War in Rhodesia. The war was fought in the 1960s and 1970s between the army of the predominantly white minority Rhodesian government and communist-backed black nationalist groups.
The initial military strategy of the government was to seal the borders to prevent assistance to the guerrillas from other countries. However, with the end of Portuguese colonial rule in Angola and Mozambique, and especially the arrival of some 500,000 Cuban armed forces and tens of thousands of Soviet troops, this became untenable and the white minority government adopted an alternative strategy ("mobile counter offensive"). This involved defending only key economic areas, transport links ("vital asset ground"), and the white civilian population. The government lost control of the rest of the country to the guerilla forces, but carried out counter-guerilla operations including "free-fire attacks" in the so-called "no-go areas," where white civilians were advised not to go.
Alleged contemporary no-go areas
The following are areas that have been described as no-go areas in recent years, though in some cases the characterization has been disputed.
In the wake of the 2015 Paris attacks, the Molenbeek municipality in Brussels was described in many media reports as a "no-go area", where gang violence and Islamic radicalism had fed on Molenbeek’s marginalisation, despair and festering resentment of authority. In 2015 Belgium’s home affairs minister said that the government did not “have control of the situation in Molenbeek" and that terrorists' links to this district were a "gigantic problem".
Some favelas in Brazil, most notably in Rio de Janeiro, are controlled by gangs with automatic weapons. Police and investigative reporters have been tortured and killed there, such as Tim Lopes in 2002. Attempts at clearing up such areas have led to security crises in Rio as well as in São Paulo.
An early usage of the term regarding Europe was in a 2002 opinion piece by David Ignatius in The New York Times, where he wrote about France, "Arab gangs regularly vandalize synagogues here, the North African suburbs have become no-go zones at night, and the French continue to shrug their shoulders." La Courneuve and other districts in the Paris region were described by police as no-go zones.
In 2010, Raphaël Stainville of French newspaper Le Figaro called certain neighborhoods of the southern city Perpignan "veritable lawless zones", saying they had become too dangerous to travel in at night. He added that the same was true in parts of Béziers and Nîmes. In 2012, Gilles Demailly, the mayor of the French city Amiens, in the wake of several riots, called the northern part of his city a lawless zone, where one could no longer order a pizza or call for a doctor. In 2014, Fabrice Balanche, a scholar of the Middle East, labelled the northern city of Roubaix, as well as parts of Marseille, "mini-Islamic states", saying that the authority of the state is completely absent there. American magazines Newsweek and The New Republic have also used the term to describe parts of France.
In January 2015, after the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris, various American media, including the news cable channels Fox News and CNN, described the existence of no-go zones across Europe and in France in particular, or featured guests that referred to them. In some cases, the French areas termed "sensitive urban zones" were described as no-go zones. Both networks were criticized for these statements, and anchors on both networks later apologized for the characterizations. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said that she intended to sue Fox News for its statements.[needs update]
A sociology paper published in 2009 said that right-wing extremists had been discussing the creation of no-go areas in Western Europe since the 1980s. It described attempts to create "national liberated zones" (national befreite Zonen) in Germany: "'no-go-areas', which are areas dominated by neo-Nazis," attributing their appeal in the former DDR to "the unmet promises of modernisation and the poor socio-cultural conditions that offer no perspectives to young people". Whether or not Germany actually had no-go zones was disputed: the paper concluded "according to ... state officials, the police and other relevant institutions, [the phenomenon of no-go zones] does not actually exist ... by contrast, the national press in Germany, various civic associations, and also experts acknowledge and give examples of the existence of no-go areas."
In a 2011 interview, Bernhard Witthaut, then president of the German police union Gewerkschaft der Polizei, stated that some areas in Germany, mostly with a high immigrant population, had become no-go areas where police feared to enter.
The Gaya Island is a location of an illegal Filipino colony, called Kampung Lok Urai, with stilt houses girdling the beach. Both the Malaysian federal government and the Sabah state government do not officially recognise the settlement and the inhabitants as the inhabitants are known as illegal immigrants. It has a 6,000 floating population of largely Filipinos Suluk and Bajau. It is considered a dangerous, high crime or "no-go" area by the police and the locals.
A report from the Swedish Police (2016) map 53 so called "exposed" areas (Utsatta områden), of which 15 were "particularly exposed". An "exposed area" is an area with low socioeconomic status and the area is affected by criminality. A "particularly exposed" area is defined by an unwillingness to participate in legal proceedings, difficulties for the police to carry out their mission, parallel social structures, violent extremism and finally proximity to other exposed areas. These definitions are used to adapt their procedures when working in these areas, for example bringing certain equipment and working in pairs when in a "particularly exposed area".
In March 2015, journalist Henrik Höjer discussed the rise of criminality, especially organized crime, in various neighborhoods within Sweden since the mid-1990s, especially in the city of Malmö. He interviewed a police officer and task force chief who referred to such areas as "no go areas" and wrote that gangs like to lay claim to an area by throwing stones at mailmen, police, firefighters and ambulances who enter the area.
In February 2016, a news crew for Australia's 60 Minutes working with anti-immigration activist Jan Sjunnesson reported having come under attack, including having stones thrown on them and a car running over the foot of a cameraman who was trying to prevent it from leaving in the immigrant-dominated district of Rinkeby of Stockholm. 60 Minutes published the video, on which reporter Liz Hayes states "there are now 55 declared no-go zones in Sweden."
A 10-minute December 2016 film by FoxNews.com's Ami Horowitz, Stockholm Syndrome, focused on violence by Muslim immigrants within Sweden, and included an interview with two policemen who seemed to confirm that there are no-go areas for police in Sweden. During the interview, one officer states, "If the police is chasing another car for some kind of crime, if they reach what we call 'no-go areas', the police won't go after it." The police officers later objected to the interview and said that their quotes had been taken out of context, and a videographer who worked on the film supported the officers' account, saying the video was cut together unethically. The documentary gained significant attention several months later when U.S. President Donald Trump indirectly alluded to it in a speech. The film as a whole, and its description of no-go areas, have both been disputed by sources within Sweden; the Swedish The Local quoted a police spokesperson as saying that, though there are areas "characterized by, among other things, the difficulty for the police to fulfill its duty", "There are no guidelines that the police should not visit these areas". The description of no-go zones was also disputed by Felipe Estrada Dörner, a criminology professor at Stockholm University.
In a 2017 interview with journalist Paulina Neuding, the head of the Swedish ambulance drivers' union, Gordon Grattidge, stated that there were areas where it is too dangerous for rescue workers to enter without police protection, using the English term "no-go zones" to describe them.
In 2012, Professor Hamid Ghodse of the United Nations' International Narcotics Control Board included areas of Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool as "no-go areas" run by drug traffickers, comparing them to Brazilian favelas. Local police forces denied the claims.
In 2015 Fox News received strong criticism for airing statements by Steven Emerson that the city of Birmingham was a "no-go area" for non-Muslims, despite less than a quarter of the population identifying as Muslim. British Prime Minister David Cameron described Emerson as "clearly a complete idiot". Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator later found Fox News breached broadcasting regulations over the comments. Ofcom identified the comments as "materially misleading and had the potential to cause harm and offence to viewers" and described Fox News' behaviour as "a serious breach for a current affairs programme".
Authors in publications such as The Atlantic and Business Week magazines, Media Matters for America, and Snopes.com have criticized use of the term "no-go zone" regarding locations supposedly operating under Sharia Law in Europe and the US, calling it a "myth" or falsehood.
- Definition of no-go area, Collins English Dictionary (online), retrieved 2015-01-22
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- Grahamjan, David A. (January 20, 2015), "Why the Muslim 'No-Go-Zone' Myth Won't Die", The Atlantic
- Carol Matlack (January 14, 2015), "Debunking the Myth of Muslim-Only Zones in Major European Cities", Business Week
- Karen Finney (January 26, 2015), "The No-Go Zone Myth Comes To America", Media Matters blog, Media Matters for America
- "Caliph-ain't", Snopes.com, January 18, 2015,
A number of localities in the United States, France, and Britain are considered Muslim "no-go zones" (operating under Sharia Law) where local laws are not applicable. FALSE
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there are now 55 declared no-go zones in Sweden
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