Zoned Out

Challenging “pre-owned” and “correctional institution” for first place in the delicate euphemism rankings is “sensitive urban zones.”

That phrase, having barged into the news cycle in recent weeks, is the translation of “Zones Urbaines Sensibles,” a designation long used in France to describe neighborhoods characterized by high unemployment, high rates of public housing and low educational attainment, many if not most of the areas populated for the most part by Muslim immigrants.

It was the characterization of such areas in Western Europe as “no-go zones,” first by Fox News and then by Louisiana governor and presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal, that propelled “sensitive urban zones” into the news.

After terrorism analyst Steve Emerson contended on Fox News that “There are actual cities [in Britain] like Birmingham that are totally Muslim, where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in,” British Prime Minister David Cameron waxed apoplectic, and the network apologized repeatedly. Similar claims about “no-go” neighborhoods in France prodded Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo to announce that the City of Light would be suing Fox. “The image of Paris,” she huffed, “has been prejudiced, and the honor of Paris has been prejudiced.”

A day after those apologies, Mr. Jindal told CNN that “In the West, non-assimilationist Muslims establish enclaves and carry out as much of Sharia law as they can without regard for the laws of the democratic countries which provided them a new home …” and added, “I think that the radical Left absolutely wants to pretend like this problem is not here. Pretending it’s not here won’t make it go away.”

There are indeed Sharia courts in some Western European countries, including England, where “Muslim Arbitration Tribunals” resolve civil and family issues through Islamic law. There are also, l’havdil, batei din in our own communities that arbitrate disputes and rule on halachic questions. Allowing religious communities to address legal issues among their willing members should not threaten anyone. Multicultural democratic societies rightly respect religious communities’ right to practice their faiths, including to arbitrate religious matters and disputes among their members. Thus, Mr. Jindal’s conflating of arbitration courts with incubators of terrorism is misguided and dangerous.

Equally misguided and dangerous, though, is the contention, much bellowed of late by the media, that “no-go” zones don’t exist in Western Europe. The designation need not mean lawless, rebellious enclaves. But it describes something real.

Neighborhoods that incubate the sort of evil that exploded in France mere weeks ago — and that have exploded so many times before — are indeed threats to civilized society. Such areas breed and attract disaffected Muslims, often petty criminals seeking glory, like the brothers who massacred 17 people earlier this month. Or the British soldier hacked to death by two Islamists in 2013. Or the scores of other Islamist terrorist “incidents” in both countries over the years. The “no-go” neighborhoods, whatever one chooses to call them, nurture such people’s malevolence, and send them on their wicked ways.

In Britain, one such enclave spawned a (now banned) group called “Muslims Against the Crusades,” which pledged to turn 12 British cities — including what it calls “Londonistan” — into autonomous Islamist enclaves operating entirely outside British jurisprudence.

Political commentator Daniel Pipes conceded that France’s “sensitive urban zones” are, “in normal times… unthreatening, routine places.” He adds, though, that “they do unpredictably erupt, with car burnings, attacks on representatives of the state (including police), and riots.”

Such neighborhoods may not have seceded from their countries, as has been implied by some overreaching pundits and politicians. But they are viewed by police, other emergency services and the public as dangerous places. Because they are. Dangerous not only to visit but to society at large, because of the hatred and violence regularly preached and promoted there. Cancer cells can bide their time too.

After Fox News aired its reference to “no-go” zones, a French comedic program mocked the assertion in a video. Two “correspondents” pretending to be American journalists ventured into a Muslim neighborhood and, in slapstick fashion, cowered when they spied a couscous restaurant and then fell to the ground in fright at the sound of a jackhammer.

The host of the program wouldn’t take credit for causing Fox’s apology. But he said that “The important thing is that we really had fun.”

It’s nice that he had fun. After the horrors of past weeks, Frenchmen deserve some comic relief. But should the comedian happen to find himself for some reason in a Zone Urbaine Sensible, and hear a loud, explosive noise, he will do well to, in all seriousness, drop quickly to the ground.n