The jihadist attack on the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French magazine known for lampooning Islam, has cast a spotlight on so-called no-go zones in France and other European countries.
No-go zones are Muslim-dominated neighborhoods that are largely off limits to non-Muslims due to a variety of factors, including the lawlessness and insecurity that pervades a great number of these areas. Host-country authorities have effectively lost control over many no-go zones and are often unable or unwilling to provide even basic public aid, such as police, fire fighting and ambulance services, out of fear of being attacked by Muslim youth.
Muslim enclaves in European cities are also breeding grounds for Islamic radicalism and pose a significant threat to Western security.
Europe's no-go zones are the by-product of decades of multicultural policies that have encouraged Muslim immigrants to create parallel societies and remain segregated from — rather than become integrated into — their European host nations.
The problem of no-go zones is well documented, but multiculturalists and their politically correct supporters vehemently deny that they exist. Some are now engaged in a concerted campaign to discredit and even silence those who draw attention to the issue.
Consider Carol Matlack, an American writer for Bloomberg Businessweek, who recently penned a story — entitled "Debunking the Myth of Muslim-Only Zones in Major European Cities" — in which she claims that no-go zones are nothing more than an "urban legend" that is "demonstrably untrue." She then goes on to ridicule those who disagree with her.
The American cable television channel Fox News has also issued at least four apologies for referring to Muslim no-go zones in Europe, after one commentator erroneously claimed that the entire city of Birmingham, England, was Muslim. Had he simply said that "parts" of Birmingham are Muslim, he would have been correct.
Despite such politically correct denials, Muslim no-go zones are a well-known fact of life in many parts of Europe.
What follows is the first in a multi-part series that will document the reality of Europe's no-go zones. The series begins by focusing on France and provides a brief compilation of just a few of the literally thousands of references to French no-go zones from academic, police, media and government sources that can easily be found on the Internet by doing a simple search on Google.
Fabrice Balanche, a well-known French Islam scholar who teaches at the University of Lyon, recently told Radio Télévision Suisse: "You have territories in France such as Roubaix, such as northern Marseille, where police will not step foot, where the authority of state is completely absent, where mini Islamic states have been formed."
French writer and political journalist Éric Zemmour recently told BFM TV: "There are places in France today, especially in the suburbs, where it is not really in France. Salafi Islamists are Islamizing some neighborhoods and some suburbs. In these neighborhoods, it's not France, it's an Islamic republic." In a separate interview, Zemmour — whose latest book is entitled, "The French Suicide" — says multiculturalism and the reign of politically correct speech is destroying the country.
French politician Franck Guiot wrote that parts of Évry, a township in the southern suburbs of Paris, are no-go zones where police forces cannot go for fear of being attacked. He said that politicians seeking to maintain "social peace" were prohibiting the police from using their weapons to defend themselves.
The Socialist mayor of Amiens, Gilles Demailly, has referred to the Fafet-Brossolette district of the city as a "no-go zone" where "you can no longer order a pizza or get a doctor to come to the house." Europe 1, one of the leading broadcasters in France, has referred to Marseille as a "no-go zone" after the government was forced to deploy riot police, known as CRS, to confront warring Muslim gangs in the city. The French Interior Ministry said it was trying to "reconquer" 184 square kilometers (71 square miles) of Marseille that have come under the control of Muslim gangs.
The French newspaper Le Figaro has referred to downtown Perpignan as a "veritable no-go zone" where "aggression, antisocial behavior, drug trafficking, Muslim communalism, racial tensions and tribal violence" are forcing non-Muslims to move out. Le Figaro also reported that the Les Izards district of Toulouse was a no-go zone, where Arab drug trafficking gangs rule the streets in a climate of fear.
Separately, Le Figaro reported that large quantities of assault rifles are circulating in French no-go zones. "For a few hundred dollars you can buy Kalashnikovs," political scientist Sebastian Roché said. "The price of an iPhone!"
The newspaper France Soir published poll results showing that nearly 60% of French citizens are in favor of sending the army into troubled suburbs to restore order.
The newspaper Le Parisien has called parts of Grigny, a township in the southern suburbs of Paris, a "lawless zone" plagued by well-organized Muslim gangs, whose members believe they are "masters of the world." The weekly newsmagazine Le Point reported on the spiraling Muslim lawlessness in the French city of Grenoble.
The French magazine L'Obs (formerly known as Le Nouvel Observateur) has reported on the deteriorating security situation in Roubaix, a city in northern France that is located close to the Belgian border. The magazine reported that local citizens are "exiled within their own country" and want to create their own militia to restore order because police are afraid to confront Muslim gangs.
In August 2014, the French magazine Valeurs Actuelles (Contemporary Values) reported that "France has more than 750 areas of lawlessness" where the law of the French Republic no longer applies. Under the headline "Hell in France," the magazine said that many parts of France are experiencing a "dictatorship of riffraff" where police are "greeted by mortar fire" and are "forced to retreat by projectiles."
Separately, Valeurs Actuelles reported on the lawlessness in Trappes, a township located in the western suburbs of Paris, where radical Islam and endemic crime go hand in hand. "Criminals are pursued by Islamic fundamentalists to impose an alternative society, breaking links with the French Republic," according to local police commander Mohammed Duhan. It is not advisable to go there, he says, adding, "You will be spotted by so-called chauffeurs (lookouts for drug traffickers) and be stripped and smashed."
Valeurs Actuelles has also reported on no-go zones in Nantes, Tours and Orléans, which have turned into "battlefields" where the few remaining native French holdouts are confronted with "Muslim communalism, the disappearance of their cultural references and rampant crime."
A 1.5 hour documentary (in French) produced by France's TF1 about Muslim gangs in Parisian no-go zones can be viewed here. A 50-minute documentary (in French) produced by France's TV3 about the no-go zones of Clos Saint-Lazare in northern Paris can be viewed here. A 45-minute documentary (in English) about the no-go zones of Marseilles can be viewed here.
A four-minute video of the most dangerous neighborhoods of France in 2014 can be viewed here. A three-and-a-half-minute video of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Greater Paris Metropolitan Area can be viewed here. A two-minute video of a no-go zone in Lille can be viewed here. A five-minute video about life in the suburbs of Lyon can be viewed here.
A Russian television (Russia-1) documentary about no-go zones in Paris can be viewed here. The presenter says: "We are in Paris, the Barbès quarter, a few minutes from the famous Montmartre. Finding a European here is almost a mission impossible. Certain Paris streets remind one of an oriental bazaar." He continues: "The Paris banlieues have become criminal ghettoes where even the police dare not enter." Hidden cameras record widespread lawlessness and drug dealing in the area.
A 120-page research paper entitled "No-Go Zones in the French Republic: Myth or Reality?" documented dozens of French neighborhoods "where police and gendarmerie cannot enforce the Republican order or even enter without risking confrontation, projectiles, or even fatal shootings."
Some of the most notorious no-go zone areas in France are situated in the department of Seine-Saint-Denis, a northeastern suburb (banlieue) of Paris that has one of the highest concentrations of Muslims in France. The department is home to an estimated 600,000 Muslims (primarily from North and West Africa) out of a total population of 1.4 million.
Seine-Saint-Denis is divided into 40 administrative districts called communes (townships), 36 of which are on the French government's official list of "sensitive urban zones" or ZUS.
Seine-Saint-Denis — also known locally as "ninety-three" or "nine three" after the first two digits of the postal code for this suburb — has one of the highest unemployment rates in France; more than 40% of those under the age of 25 are jobless. The area is plagued with drug dealing and suffers from some of the highest rates of violent crime in France.
In October 2011, a landmark 2,200-page report, "Banlieue de la République" (Suburbs of the Republic) found that Seine-Saint-Denis and other Parisian suburbs are becoming "separate Islamic societies" cut off from the French state, and where Islamic Sharia law is rapidly displacing French civil law. The report said that Muslim immigrants are increasingly rejecting French values and instead are immersing themselves in radical Islam.
The report — which was commissioned by the influential French think tank, L'Institut Montaigne — was directed by Gilles Kepel, a highly respected political scientist and specialist in Islam, together with five other French researchers.
The authors of the report showed that France — which now has 6.5 million Muslims (the largest Muslim population in European Union) — is on the brink of a major social explosion because of the failure of Muslims to integrate into French society.
The report also showed how the problem is being exacerbated by radical Muslim preachers, who are promoting the social marginalization of Muslim immigrants in order to create a parallel Muslim society in France that is ruled by Sharia law.
The research was primarily carried out in the Seine-Saint-Denis townships of Clichy-sous-Bois and Montfermeil, two suburbs that were ground zero for Muslim riots in the fall of 2005, when Muslim mobs torched more than 9,000 cars.
The report described Seine-Saint-Denis as a "wasteland of de-industrialization" and said that in some areas, "a third of the population of the town does not hold French nationality, and many residents are drawn to an Islamic identity."
Another township of Seine-Saint-Denis is Aubervilliers. Sometimes referred to as one of the "lost territories of the French Republic," it is effectively a Muslim city: more than 70% of the population is Muslim. Three quarters of young people under 18 in the township are foreign or French of foreign origin, mainly from the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. French police are said to rarely venture into some of the most dangerous parts of the township.
The southern part of Aubervilliers is well known for its vibrant Chinese immigrant community along with their wholesale clothing and textile warehouses and import-export shopping malls. In August 2013, the weekly newsmagazine Marianne reported that Muslim immigrants felt humiliated by the economic dynamism of the Chinese, and were harassing and attacking Chinese traders, who were increasingly subject to robberies and extortion. The situation got so bad that the Chinese ambassador to France was forced to pay a visit to the area.
In response, the Socialist mayor of Aubervilliers, Jacques Salvator, suggested that the violence could be halted if Chinese companies would agree to hire more Arabs and Africans. The Chinese countered that Muslims do not work as hard as the Chinese, that they are more demanding, and that they complain too much, according to Marianne.
After local officials refused to act in the face of increasing Muslim violence, the Chinese threatened to "call on the Chinese mafia" for protection. Muslims responded by launching a petition to have the Chinese expelled from the area.
Also in Aubervilliers, the magazine Charlie Hebdo reported in 2012 that the town hall was obligating non-Muslim men who want to marry Muslim women to convert to Islam first, even though France is ostensibly a secular republic. One such man, Frédéric Gilbert, a journalist, was told:
"You can convert in any mosque in three minutes. All you need do is to repeat 'with conviction and sincerity' this sentence: 'I recognize that there is no god but Allah and that Mohammed is his prophet,' and the Imam will agree that you have converted to Islam.'"
In a story entitled, "When Town Hall Mayors become Imams," Charlie Hebdo wrote:
"In other words, Moroccan law prevails over French law in cases of mixed marriages and the same situation pertains with regard to other former French colonies such as Tunisia and Algeria as well as with Egypt."
According to the newspaper Le Parisien, the practice of "false conversions" to Islam is widespread because most non-Muslim grooms prefer fake conversions rather than to suffer "administrative complications."
In 2014, Le Figaro published the contents of a leaked intelligence document that warns about the imposition of Islamic Sharia law in French schools in Muslim ghettoes. The 15-page document provides 70 specific examples of how Muslim radicals are taking over ostensibly secular schools throughout the country. These include: veiling in playgrounds, halal meals in the canteen, chronic absenteeism (bordering 90% in some parts of Nîmes and Toulouse) during religious festivals, clandestine prayer in gyms or hallways. The report details how "self-proclaimed young guardians of orthodoxy" are circumventing the March 2004 law banning religious symbols in French schools. In Marseille, a high school principal testified that some of her students pray with such fervor that they have "blue foreheads."
A video showing a radical Islamic rally in Saint-Denis can be viewed here. A video showing radical Muslims commandeering a French bus amid screams of "Allahu Akbar!" (Allah is greater!) can be viewed here. A series of eight videos documenting Muslim street prayers in Paris can be viewed here. (Street prayers have now been outlawed.) A series of 25 videos documenting the Islamization of France can be viewed here.
In July 2012, the French government announced a plan to reassert state control over 15 of the most notorious no-go zones. The crime-infested districts, which the French Interior Ministry has designated as Priority Security Zones (Zones de Sécurité Prioritaires, or ZSP), include heavily Muslim parts of Amiens, Aubervilliers, Avignon, Béziers, Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Marseilles, Montpellier, Mulhouse, Nantes, Nice, Paris, Perpignan, Strasbourg, Toulouse and many others. The number of ZSPs now stands at 64; a complete list of ZSPs can be found here.
Meanwhile, a 13-minute Hungarian television documentary (with English subtitles) about no-go zones in Paris can be viewed here. The presenter interviews a French crime reporter named Laurent Obertone, who is the author of a bestselling new book entitled, "La France Orange Méchanique" (France: A Clockwork Orange).
In his book, Obertone writes that France is descending into a state of savagery and that the true magnitude of crime and violence across the country is being deliberately under-reported by politically correct media, government and police.
In the documentary, Obertone states: "The French elite became outraged when [former French President Nicolas] Sarkozy referred to [Muslim] immigrants attacking police as 'mobs'."
The Hungarian presenter then asks: "What if we went to the suburbs?" Obertone replies: "I do not recommend this. Not even we French dare go there anymore. But nobody talks about this in public, of course. Nor do those who claim, 'long live multiculturalism,' and 'Paris is wonderful!' dare enter the suburbs."
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.