|FROM ||Ruben Safir
|SUBJECT ||Re: [Hangout-NYLXS] islam is your friend III
[Author's note: Please note that the update of Jan. 16, 2013
substantially changes my understanding of the ZUS.]
They go by the euphemistic term Zones Urbaines Sensibles, or Sensitive
Urban Zones, with the even more antiseptic acronym ZUS, and there are
751 of them as of last count. They are conveniently listed on one long
webpage, complete with street demarcations and map delineations.
What are they? Those places in France that the French state does not
fully control. They range from two zones in the medieval town of
Carcassonne to twelve in the heavily Muslim city of Marseilles, with
hardly a town in France lacking in its ZUS. The ZUS came into existence
in late 1996 and according to a 2004 estimate, nearly 5 million people
live in them.
Comment: The proliferation of ZUS suggest that the French state no
longer has full control over its territory. (November 14, 2006)
Nov. 28, 2006 update: For an insight into how bad things are, the police
in Lyons demonstrated on Nov. 9, denouncing "violence against the forces
of order." Things have reached a pretty sad state when the police have
to demonstrate in the streets against the criminals.
Jan. 5, 2008 update: In a remarkable statement, Michael Nazir-Ali, the
Pakistani-born bishop of Rochester, writes in the Daily Telegraph about
the situation in Great Britain:
there has been a worldwide resurgence of the ideology of Islamic
extremism. One of the results of this has been to further alienate the
young from the nation in which they were growing up and also to turn
already separate communities into "no-go" areas where adherence to this
ideology has become a mark of acceptability. Those of a different faith
or race may find it difficult to live or work there because of hostility
Jan. 16, 2008 update: Paul Belien of Brussels Journal provides an update
on the ZUS, connecting them to organized crime in a way that helps
explain police reluctance to intervene:
In May , the French voters elected Mr. [Nicolas] Sarkozy as
president because he had promised to restore the authority of the
Republic over France's 751 no-go areas, the so-called zones urbaines
sensibles (ZUS, sensitive urban areas), where 5 million people - 8
percent of the population - live. During his first months in office he
has been too busy with other activities, such as selling nuclear plants
to Libya and getting divorced. While the French media publish nude
pictures of the future (third) Mrs. Sarkozy, the situation in the ZUS
has remained as "sensitive" as before.
People get mugged, even murdered, in the ZUS, but the media prefer
not to write about it. When large-scale rioting erupts and officers and
firemen are attacked, the behavior of the thugs is condoned with
references to their "poverty" and to the "racism" of the indigenous
French. The French media never devote their attention to the bleak
situation of intimidation and lawlessness in which 8 percent of the
population, including many poor indigenous French, are forced to live.
Muslim racism toward the "infidels" is never mentioned.
Xavier Raufer, a former French intelligence officer who heads the
department on organized crime and terrorism at the Institute of
Criminology of the University of Paris II, thinks that organized crime
has a lot to do with the indifference of the French establishment.
The ZUS are centers of drug trafficking. According to a recent
report of the French government's Interdepartmental Commission to Combat
Drug Traffic and Addiction (MILDT) 550,000 people in France consume
cannabis on a daily basis and 1.2 million on a regular basis. The annual
cannabis consumption amounts to 208 tons for a market value of 832
million euros ($1.2 billion in U.S. dollars). MILDT estimates that there
are between 6,000 and 13,000 small "entrepreneurs" and between 700 and
1,400 wholesalers who make a living out of dealing cannabis. The
wholesalers earn up to 550,000 euros ($820,000) per year. Since they
operate from within the ZUS the drug dealers are beyond the reach of the
The ZUS exist not only because Muslims wish to live in their own
areas according to their own culture and their own Shariah laws, but
also because organized crime wants to operate without the judicial and
fiscal interference of the French state. In France, Shariah law and
mafia rule have become almost identical.
Mar. 8, 2008 update: Britain has "ethnic" no-go areas for military
personnel in uniform, the Times (London) reports today at "Military
uniforms in public 'risk offending minorities'."
Certain areas in Britain will still have to remain off-limits for
servicemen and women in military gear, despite the Government's desire
for a nationwide uniform free-for-all, senior RAF sources acknowledged
yesterday. ... one senior air force source said that military commanders
had to be aware of potential problems of personnel wearing combat and
other military clothes in the street. "We're aware of the sensitivities,
for example, in some ethnic minority communities which is why we need to
have a dialogue with local authorities and police if we don't want to
cause a problem."
Mar. 16, 2008 update: John Cornwell, a leading historian and commentator
on religion, is generally skeptical of Nazir-Ali's no-go areas but finds
that if anyplace fits the profile, it's Bury Park in Luton:
Luton, like other enclaves, has experienced a spate of incidents
that look all too like attempts to make Bury Park a no-go area to
non-Muslims. Between November of last year and last month there were 18
attacks – all registered by the police – on five non-Muslim homes in the
area. One couple, Mr and Mrs Harrop, white residents in their eighties,
have had bricks hurled through their windows. The home of Mrs Palmer, a
widow of West Indian origin, aged 70, has been attacked four times; on
one occasion a metal beer keg crashed through her bay window while she
was watching TV.
Such attacks are not typical of the activities of the sort of
radicals who preach a global Islamic state, or potential terrorists,
who, according to one of my MI5 informants, merge into a background of
"innocent normalcy" till the last minute. DCI Ian Middleton of
Bedfordshire police says: "It's the perception of the victims that their
Muslim neighbours are to blame, and we have to respect that. But we have
our doubts." Middleton suspects, as does Margaret Moran, MP for Luton
South, that the attacks could be the work of small groups of white or
Muslim extremists, stirring up racial and inter-religious hatred for its
I was to come across comparable "no-go" incidents in other parts of
Britain, such as threats against Muslim converts to Christianity, and
attacks on visiting social workers and Salvation Army facilities.
July 28, 2008 update: For information on the German case, see Kristian
Frigelj, "Unter Feinden," Die Welt. The teaser explains that "In many
German urban areas, the police hardly dare enter because they are
immediately assaulted." July 29, 2008 update: For a translation of this
article, see "In Enemy Territory."
Jan. 12, 2009 update: I consider the potential political import of these
no-go zones at "Muslim Autonomous Zones in the West?"
July 19, 2010 update: Due to problems with Turkish delinquents, German
police want their counterparts from Turkey to come in and patrol problem
areas of North Rhine-Westphalia. Also today, Baron Bodissey discusses
the general issue of no-go zones at "A Little Piece of Dar al-Islam."
Aug. 22, 2011 update: Soeren Kern returns to this subject with an
important overview at "European 'No-Go' Zones for Non-Muslims
Islamic extremists are stepping up the creation of "no-go" areas in
European cities that are off-limits to non-Muslims. Many of the "no-go"
zones function as microstates governed by Islamic Sharia law.
Host-country authorities effectively have lost control in these areas
and in many instances are unable to provide even basic public aid such
as police, fire fighting and ambulance services.
The "no-go" areas are the by-product of decades of multicultural
policies that have encouraged Muslim immigrants to create parallel
societies and remain segregated rather than become integrated into their
European host nations.
He then surveys developments in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium,
Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden.
Aug. 4, 2012 update: The French Interior Ministry has created a new type
of no-go zone, called Zones de Sécurité Prioritaires (ZSP), or Priority
Security Zones. The first batch contains 15 of them, basically the
Muslim-majority regions of major cities like Lille, Paris, Strasbourg,
Lyons, and Marseilles, as well as in French Guyana. Aug. 24, 2012
update: Soeren Kern explains these new zones in "France Seeks to Reclaim
Jan. 16, 2013 update: I had an opportunity today to travel at length to
several banlieues (suburbs) around Paris, including Sarcelles, Val
d'Oise, and Seine-Saint-Denis. This comes on the heels of having visited
over the years the predominantly immigrant (and Muslim) areas of
Brussels, Copenhagen, Malmö, Berlin, and Athens.
A couple of observations:
For a visiting American, these areas are very mild, even dull. We
who know the Bronx and Detroit expect urban hell in Europe too, but
there things look fine. The immigrant areas are hardly beautiful, but
buildings are intact, greenery abounds, and order prevails.
These are not full-fledged no-go zones but, as the French
nomenclature accurately indicates, "sensitive urban zones." In normal
times, they are unthreatening, routine places. But they do unpredictably
erupt, with car burnings, attacks on representatives of the state
(including police), and riots.
Having this first-hand experience, I regret having translated what the
French government terms Zones Urbaines Sensibles as no-go zones. One can
indeed "go" in them.
A typical sight in the commercial areas of "94," one of the most heavily
Muslim areas of France.
Nov. 11, 2013 update: Andrew Harrod discusses the problems in Bonn at
"Germany's Sharia No-Go Zones."
Oct. 1, 2014 update: The Swedish police published a report on 55 areas
of heightened criminal activity under the anodyne title of En nationell
översikt av kriminella nätverk med stor påverkan i lokalsamhället ("A
national survey of criminal networks with great influence in the local
community"). No ethnicity is mentioned but many happen to be regions
with Muslim majorities.
Jan. 13, 2015 update: Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom
Independence Party, says that most big French cities have "no-go zones"
where non-Muslims, including police, cannot enter:
It's happening right across Europe. We have got no-go zones in most
of the big French cities. We've been turning a blind eye to preachers of
hate that have been coming here from the Middle East and saying things
for which the rest of us would be arrested. In parts of northern England
we've seen the sexual grooming of under-age girls committed by Muslim
men, in the majority, and for all of these things we are seeing the law
not being applied equally, we're seeing the police forces not doing
their job because we've suffered from moral cowardice. We have through
mass immigration and through not checking the details of those people
who have come to our countries, we have allowed big ghettos to develop
and when it comes to confronting tough issues we're run a mile and that
is why we're in the mess we're in, we've been led very badly. ... So,
wherever you look, wherever you look you see this blind eye being turned
and you see the growth of ghettos where the police and all the normal
agents of the law have withdrawn and that is where Sharia law has come in."
He added that he is "hoping and praying" that similar no-go zones do not
develop in British cities.
Jan. 14, 2015 update: Jack Sommers, a UK-based reporter for Huffington
Post, posed this series of questions to me about the ZUS and their
equivalents elsewhere in Europe:
Could you describe the places you visited in more detail? What were
your impressions of these places before you visited them? Did you feel
personally safe visiting them? Do you think there is any truth to the
claims being made that police and non-Muslims fear to visit them?
I have visited predominantly immigrant (and largely Muslim) areas
of Athens, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, the Hague, Malmö, Paris, and
Stockholm. In the case of Paris, I spent time both in Belleville and in
such suburbs as Sarcelles, Val d'Oise, and Seine Saint Denis. I have
also visited the equivalent areas of Dearborn, Michigan, and Sydney,
Australia, plus analogous areas of Israel, including Jaffa, Nazareth,
eastern Jerusalem, Baqa al-Gharbiya, and Umm al-Fahm.
Before my travels, I expected these areas to be similar to the worst
areas of the United States, such as the Bronx or Detroit, where
buildings are decrepit, streets menacing, and outsiders feel distinctly
My experiences starting in 2007 belied this expectation. All the
immigrant areas turned out to be well maintained, with safe streets, and
no sense of intimidation. I walked around, usually with camera in hand,
and felt at ease. I encountered no difficulties at all.
That said, there is a reason why the French government calls these
regions sensibles (sensitive, delicate). They contain many social
pathologies (unemployment, drugs, political extremism), they seethe with
antagonism toward the majority society, and are prone to outbreaks of
So, from an American point of view, these areas are a bit confusing:
potentially dangerous, yes, but in normal times very ordinary looking
and with no sense of foreboding. Thus, the term no-go zone does not
accurately reflect the situation.
Jan. 16, 2015 update: I reply to a critique that my visits do not amount
to evidence at http://www.danielpipes.org/comments/220430
Jan. 17, 2015 update: Research into the term no-go zones referring to
Muslim habitations in Western Europe done by the pseudonymous Yoel Natan
finds its earliest use to be on my website, DanielPipes.org: An
Australia resident who calls himself "fed up" wrote on March 22, 2006,
that "In Sydney, Australia, we have large areas of our city that are
deemed no-go zones."
The next use appears to be by the Norwegian analyst who calls himself
Fjordman, on July 13, 2006, who defined "Muslim no-go zones" as places
"where anything representing a Western institution (post office truck,
firemen, even mail order delivery firms) was routinely ambushed with
Then came my use of the term on November 14, 2006. My originality was in
translating Zones Urbaines Sensibles as no-go zones.
Jan. 20, 2015 update: I offer a more skeptical view of the ZUS today at
"Does Europe Have No-go Zones?" in The Blaze.
Dec. 2, 2015 update: I offer another – my third, more nuanced, and, I
hope, final – assessment of the no-go-zone issue today at "Muslim 'No-go
Zones' in Europe?" in the Daily Caller. In it, I settle on the term
"partial no-go zones."
Related Topics: Criminality, Muslims in Europe, Radical Islam
Muslim "No-go Zones" in Europe?
Does Europe Have No-go Zones?
Muslim Autonomous Zones in the West?
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proportions in the mind of the world - RI Safir 1998
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