No-go area

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A "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.[1] It has also been used to refer to areas undergoing insurgency where ruling authorities have lost control and are unable to enforce sovereignty.[2]

A military exclusion zone is a type of a no-go zone and may have some legal basis. However, no-go zones in general arise from pure tactical necessity. Thus, they may change at a moment's notice when the security situation changes. Also, they are usually declared unilaterally by one side of a conflict. The declaring entity may use unrestricted lethal violence in the zone, and may deny rescue or security to individuals entering the zone. However, in declaring so, the declaring entity admits it cannot guarantee security within the zone, which can be politically inconvenient. Thus, they are often undeclared and unofficial, making even definitions difficult.

Historic no-go zones

Hong Kong

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.[3]


See Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities


During the independence struggle in Mozambique, Frelimo set up and defended no-go "liberated zones" in the north of the country.[4]

Northern Ireland

Free Derry Corner, the gable wall which once marked the entrance to Free Derry

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.[5] 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 both Official and Provisional factions of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) operated openly.[6] The most notable no-go area was called 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.[7][8] It was the biggest British military operation since the Suez Crisis.[9] Although the areas were no longer barricaded, they remained areas where the British security forces found it difficult to operate and were regularly attacked.[5] As a result, they entered only in armored convoys and in certain circumstances, such as to launch house raids.[10] 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.[11] Even today, the FATA region is outside the jurisdiction of Pakistani law.[12]


The term "no-go area" has a military origin and was first used in the context of the Bush War in Rhodesia.[citation needed] 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,[citation needed] 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,"[13] where white civilians were advised not to go.


After the 1980 Turkish coup d'état, the Turkish communist guerillas established "liberated" no-go zones.[14]

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 fundamentalism had fed on Molenbeek’s marginalisation, despair and festering resentment of authority.[15] 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".[16]


Some favelas in Brazil, most notably in Rio de Janeiro, are controlled by gangs with automatic weapons.[17][18] Police and investigative reporters have been tortured and killed there, such as Tim Lopes in 2002.[19] Attempts at clearing up such areas have led to security crises in Rio[20] as well as in São Paulo.[21]


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."[22] La Courneuve, a municipality (commune) in the Paris region, was described by police as a no-go zone.[23]

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.[24] In 2012, Gilles Demailly (fr), 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.[25] 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.[26] American magazines Newsweek[27] and The New Republic[28] 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"[29] were described as no-go zones.[30][31] Both networks were criticized for these statements,[32] and anchors on both networks later apologized for the characterizations.[33][34][35][36] The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said that she intended to sue Fox News for its statements.[37][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.[38] It described attempts to create "national liberated zones" (national befreite Zonen) in Germany: "'no-go-areas', which are areas dominated by neo-Nazis,"[39] 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".[40] 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."[41]

In a 2011 interview, Bernhard Witthaut (de), 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.[42]

Israel and Palestine

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) maintains a border zone on the Gaza strip and declares "no-go zones", where they may use lethal violence without further notice. A zone with a width of 100 meters along the border is unambiguously a no-go zone. Furthermore, IDF states that on a 300-meter wide zone "farmers" may approach on foot.[43] However, these areas are still farmed by Palestinians despite this risk.[44]


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.[45]


The Swedish government states that "no-go zones" do not exist in Sweden.[46][47]

A 2016 report from the Swedish Police 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".[48]

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.[49]

In February 2016, a news crew for Australia's 60 Minutes working with anti-immigration activist Jan Sjunnesson[50][51] 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.[52] 60 Minutes published the video, on which reporter Liz Hayes states "there are now 55 declared no-go zones in Sweden."[53]

A 10-minute December 2016 film by'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.[54] 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."[55] 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.[56] The documentary gained significant attention several months later when U.S. President Donald Trump indirectly alluded to it in a speech.[57] 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".[58] The description of no-go zones was also disputed by Felipe Estrada Dörner, a criminology professor at Stockholm University.[59]

In a 2017 interview with the Weekly Standard's Paulina Neuding (sv), Gordon Grattidge, described as the head of the Swedish ambulance drivers' union, 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.[60][61][47]

United Kingdom

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.[62]

Alternative views

Authors in publications such as The Atlantic and Business Week magazines, Media Matters for America, and 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.[63][64][65][66][67]

See also


  1. ^ Definition of no-go area, Collins English Dictionary (online), retrieved 2015-01-22 
  2. ^ David Wadley (September 2008), "The Garden of Peace", Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the Association of American Geographers, 98 (3), p. 658, doi:10.1080/00045600802099162, JSTOR 25515147, (Registration required (help)) 
  3. ^ Carney, John (16 March 2013). "Kowloon Walled City: Life in the City of Darkness". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  4. ^ Morier-Genoud, Eric (2012-04-19). Sure Road? Nationalisms in Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique. BRILL. ISBN 9789004226012. 
  5. ^ a b Gillespie, Gordon. The A to Z of the Northern Ireland Conflict. Scarecrow Press, 2009. pp.177-178
  6. ^ David McKittrick et al, Lost Lives (Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing, 2008) p. 176
  7. ^ "IRA left Derry 'before Operation Motorman'". BBC News. 6 December 2011. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "HISTORY – OPERATION MOTORMAN". The Museum of Free Derry. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  9. ^ Chronology of the Conflict: 1972. Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN).
  10. ^ Steve Bruce (May 1993), "Alienation Once Again", Fortnight (317): 18–19, JSTOR 25554014, (Registration required (help)) 
  11. ^ ""No-Go" Tribal Areas Became Basis for Afghan Insurgency Documents Show". 
  12. ^ Farooq, Umar. "Pakistan's FATA: Lawless no more?". 
  13. ^ Moorcraft, Paul L.; McLaughlin, Peter (2008), The Rhodesian War: A Military History (2010 reprint ed.), Stackpole Books, p. 38, ISBN 9780811707251  note - first printed in South Africa in 1982 by Sygma Books and Collins Vaal
  14. ^ Munir, Metin (1980-07-25). "Turkish Army Moves Against Leftists' 'Liberated Zone'". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2015-11-18. 
  15. ^ "Visiting Molenbeek - home of two of the gunmen in the Paris attack". The Independent. Retrieved 2015-11-16. 
  16. ^ Freytas-tamura, Kimiko De; Schreuer, Milan (2015-11-15). "Belgian Minister Says Government Lacks Control Over Neighborhood Linked to Terror Plots". The New York Times - The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-11-20. 
  17. ^ "A rota de fuga dos traficantes da Vila Cruzeiro para o Complexo do Alemão". O Globo (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  18. ^ "Repórter foi capturado, torturado e morto por traficantes - Brasil - Estadão". Estadão. Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  19. ^ "Tim Lopes - Journalists Killed - Committee to Protect Journalists". Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  20. ^ Domit, Myrna; Barrionuevo, Alexei (2010-11-28). "Brazilian Forces Claim Victory Over Gangs in Rio Slum". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  21. ^ "More die in fresh Brazil violence". BBC. 2006-05-14. Retrieved 2016-03-15. 
  22. ^ Ignatius, David (April 27, 2002). "Wake up to the problem : Separate and unequal in France". The New York Times. 
  23. ^ Abrahamson, Mark (2013-11-25). Urban Sociology: A Global Introduction. Cambridge University Press. p. 76. ISBN 9781107649415. 
  24. ^ Stainville, Raphaël (August 3, 2010). "Insécurité : "C'était intenable, nous sommes partis" (fr)". Le Figaro. 
  25. ^ Marie-Laure Combes, Aurélien Fleurot (August 15, 2012). "Amiens-Nord, une "zone de non-droit"? (fr)". Europe1. 
  26. ^ "Des "mini Etats islamiques" en France (fr)". Radio Télévision Suisse. September 25, 2014. 
  27. ^ Christopher Dickey, Europe's Time Bomb, Newsweek, 2005-11-20;
  28. ^ Donald Morrison, What Does It Mean to Be French? The 'Charlie Hebdo' Massacre Complicates the Answer, The New Republic, 2015-01-08;
  29. ^ "Combien de ZSP ? / ZSP / 2013 / Archives des actualités / Archives - Ministère de l'Intérieur". 2015-11-19. Archived from the original on November 19, 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-19. 
  30. ^ Rajeev Syal (January 13, 2015). "Nigel Farage tells Fox News there are no-go zones for non-Muslims in France". The Guardian. Retrieved January 21, 2015. 
  31. ^ "CNN, too, trafficked in 'no-go zone' chatter". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  32. ^ "CNN again hammers Fox News over 'no-go zones,' with a touch of hypocrisy". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  33. ^ Eugene Volokh (January 19, 2015). "Fox News retracts allegations of "no-go zones" for non-Muslims in England and France". Washington Post. Retrieved January 21, 2015. 
  34. ^ Brian Stelter (January 18, 2015). "Fox News apologizes 4 times for inaccurate comments about Muslims in Europe". CNN Money. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  35. ^ Lisa de Moraes. "CNN's Anderson Cooper Apologizes On Air For "No-Go Zone" Remarks - Deadline". Deadline. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  36. ^ "CNN's Anderson Cooper acknowledges mistake on 'no-go zones'". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  37. ^ Gregory Wallace; Brian Stelter (January 20, 2015), Paris mayor: We intend to sue Fox News, CNN Money 
  38. ^ NOVOTNÝ, LUKÁŠ (June 2009), "Right-wing Extremism and No-go-areas in Germany", Sociologický Časopis / Czech Sociological Review, Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 45 (3): 598, JSTOR 41132745, (Registration required (help)) 
  39. ^ Novotny p. 591
  40. ^ Novotny p.596
  41. ^ Novotny p.605
  42. ^ Seher, Dietmar (August 1, 2011). "In Problemvierteln fürchtet sich sogar die Polizei (de)". Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung. 
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^ Sean Agustin (6 July 2014). "Facebook campaign to remove Sabah CM over illegal immigrant issue". The Rakyat Post. Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  46. ^ "Embassy: No-go zones 'do not exist in Sweden'". 2016-09-23. Retrieved 2016-12-27. 
  47. ^ a b Neuding, Paulina (2017-03-13). "The Truth About Sweden". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2017-03-03. 
  48. ^ "Utsatta områden" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-01-29. 
  49. ^ Höjer, Henrik (11 March 2015). "Därför ökar de kriminella gängens makt". Forksning & Framsteg. 
  50. ^ "Här sprider Jan Sjunnesson en falsk story i australiensisk tv". 
  51. ^ "Chefredaktör på SD-ägd tidning sprider grov rasism". 
  52. ^ Vincent, Peter (1 March 2016). "60 Minutes film crew attacked by a 'group of masked men' in Stockholm". 
  53. ^ Hayes, Liz (20 March 2016). "Breaking Point". 60 Minutes. 2:54-2:59: 60 Minutes Australia. Archived from the original (video) on 2016-03-24. there are now 55 declared no-go zones in Sweden 
  54. ^ Francisco, David (February 22, 2017). "What's really happening in Sweden". The Times of Israel > Blogs. 
  55. ^ Ami Horowitz (December 12, 2016). Stockholm Syndrome (Documentary). YouTube. Event occurs at 7:13. Retrieved February 26, 2017. 
  56. ^ Mattias Areskog & Malin Ekmark, Sweden video that inspired Trump was edited 'unethically', photographer who shot it says, Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå/The Local (February 23, 2017).
  57. ^ Baker, Peter; Chan, Sewell (2017-02-20). "From an Anchor's Lips to Trump's Ears to Sweden's Disbelief". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-02-21. 
  58. ^ Six claims and facts about Sweden: a closer look at Ami Horowitz' report, Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå (February 20, 2017).
  59. ^ Robert Farley. "Trump Exaggerates Swedish Crime". Annenberg Public Policy Center. Retrieved 2017-02-21. 
  60. ^ O'Connor, Larry (2017-02-27). "VIDEO: Head of Ambulance Union Confirms 'No-Go Zones' in Sweden". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved 2017-03-01. 
  61. ^ Stromme, Lizzie (2017-02-28). "Swedish medics need military equipment to enter certain areas – Ambulance Drivers Union". The Daily Express. Retrieved 2017-03-01. 
  62. ^ Brown, Jonathan (29 February 2012). "UN says Liverpool has drug-related 'no-go areas' like those in Brazilian favelas". The Independent. Retrieved 27 December 2015. 
  63. ^ Grahamjan, David A. (January 20, 2015), "Why the Muslim 'No-Go-Zone' Myth Won't Die", The Atlantic 
  64. ^ Carol Matlack (January 14, 2015), "Debunking the Myth of Muslim-Only Zones in Major European Cities", Business Week 
  65. ^ Karen Finney (January 26, 2015), "The No-Go Zone Myth Comes To America", Media Matters blog, Media Matters for America 
  66. ^ "Caliph-ain't",, 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 
  67. ^ "Debunking the Myth of Muslim-Only Zones in Major European Cities". 14 January 2015 – via 
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