Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The No-Go Muslim Zones of Europe

You may have read about these.  They are supposed to be areas where shariah law rules and where non-Muslims cannot enter safely.  The idea has been sprouted in the fevered minds of US conservatives, beginning with an "expert" Fox News had on who argued that the UK city of Birmingham is such a no-go zone.  He and the Fox News later apologized for the misinformation he spread.  Now the Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, continues with  similar arguments:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) struggled to substantiate his claims that European cities have been taken over by Muslim extremists during an interview with CNN correspondent Max Foster on Monday in London. Jindal stood by the charge even as other prominent conservatives admitted that the allegations had no factual basis.
“There are neighborhoods where women don’t feel comfortable going in without veils that is wrong, we all know there are neighborhoods where police are less likely to go into,” Jindal said, referring to so-called “no-go” zones or areas that are too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter. The claim has echoed throughout conservative media in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Foster challenged the assertion repeatedly, explaining that, “you need to have sort of proper facts to back that up.” “I’ve lived here a long time,” he said. “I don’t know of any no-go zones for non-Muslims.”

It's all fun and games.  I tried to research this and found claims on various European anti-immigration sites, but none of them provide proper links to any evidence, just to opinions or statements that someone tried to create a shariah police force in Germany or that the Swedish police uses backup before going into some Muslim-majority areas with high crime rates.  The Snopes.com has more.

The only reason I write about this is that I do get the sense in all the debate about Islamic terrorism etcetera of an empty cavity just below whatever the day's arguments might be.  Or an ideological cavity of some type.  That cavity is then filled up with factoids or pseudo-theories.  It happens on both sides of the debate, by the way, though this does not make it a case of "both sides do it."  Rather, it makes it a case of "nobody seems to have the evidence."

Maybe it's simply the fact that when I follow up almost any argument presented in those debates I come up dry or end up as uninformed as I was at the beginning of the debate.  Hard survey data, hard data on religious utterings etc.  is not available at all, and so much of the data I find is on sites which are clearly not aiming at a neutral search for facts.