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No-go area

"No-go area" (or "no-go zone") is an area in a town barricaded off to civil authorities by a force such as a paramilitary, or barred to certain individuals or groups.[1] It has been used to refer to regions or places that are off-limits to everyone but a particular group, or which some people feel at risk visiting, for whatever reason. It has also been used to refer to areas undergoing insurgency where ruling authorities have lost control and are unable to enforce sovereignty.[2]


  • Historic no-go areas 1
    • Rhodesia 1.1
    • South Africa 1.2
    • Northern Ireland 1.3
  • Alleged modern no-go areas 2
    • France & United Kingdom 2.1
    • Germany 2.2
    • United States 2.3
  • See also 3
  • References 4

Historic no-go areas


The term "no-go area" has a military origin and was first used in the context of the Bush War in Rhodesia. 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, 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,"[3] where white civilians were advised not to go.

South Africa

Similar to Rhodesia, the term was used chiefly in the context of black emancipation movements. However, the South African Defence Force was larger than the Rhodesian by orders of magnitude and backed by a white population of millions. As a result, there were few areas which were termed no-go in the sense of the military. Instead, the term was used to describe areas were white civilians should not go without the peril of their lives and police only went when in heavy convoy.

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.[4] Between 1969 and 1972, Irish nationalist/republican neighborhoods in Belfast and Derry were sealed-off with barricades by residents. These areas were policed by vigilantes and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) operated openly. The most notable no-go area was 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.[5][6] It was the biggest British military operation since the Suez Crisis.[7] Although the areas were no longer barricaded, they remained areas where the British security forces found it difficult to operate and were regularly attacked.[4] As a result, they only entered in armored convoys and in certain circumstances, such as to launch house raids.[8] 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).

Alleged modern no-go areas

France & United Kingdom

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."[9]

American magazines Newsweek[10] and The New Republic[11] 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" were described as uniformly being no-go zones.[12][13] Both networks were criticized for these statements,[14] and anchors on both networks later apologized for the characterizations.[15][16][17][18] The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said that she intended to sue Fox News for its statements.[19]

Also in January 2015, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said in a speech in London, England, that Muslim immigrants were seeking "to colonize Western countries, because setting up your own enclave and demanding recognition of a no-go zone are exactly that." When he was asked for evidence of "no-go zones," Jindal pointed to an article in the Daily Mail which said "killings, sexual abuse of minors and female genital mutilation are believed to go unreported to local police in some areas" in England.[20][21]

Authors in have criticized use of the term "no-go zone" regarding locations in Europe, calling it a "myth" or falsehood.[22][23][24][25]


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.[26] It described attempts to create "national liberated zones" (Schafft national befreite Zonen) in Germany: "'no-go-areas', which are areas dominated by neo-Nazis,"[27] 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".[28]

In a 2011 interview, Bernhard Witthaut, 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.[29]

United States

In April 2011 after the murder of two British tourists in Sarasota, Florida, local police said the two victims were shot dead in a residential neighborhood seen as a "no-go" area for tourists.[30]

See also


  1. ^ Definition of no-go area,  
  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): 658 – via  
  3. ^ Moorcraft, Paul L.; McLaughlin, Peter (2008), The Rhodesian War: A Military History (2010 reprint ed.), Stackpole Books, p. 38,   note - first printed in South Africa in 1982 by Sygma Books and Collins Vaal
  4. ^ a b Gillespie, Gordon. The A to Z of the Northern Ireland Conflict. Scarecrow Press, 2009. pp.177-178
  5. ^ "'"IRA left Derry 'before Operation Motorman. BBC News. 6 December 2011. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  6. ^ "HISTORY – OPERATION MOTORMAN". The Museum of Free Derry. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  7. ^ Chronology of the Conflict: 1972. Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN).
  8. ^ Steve Bruce (May 1993), "Alienation Once Again", Fortnight (317): 18–19 – via  
  9. ^ Ignatius, David (April 27, 2002). "Wake up to the problem : Separate and unequal in France". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ Christopher Dickey, Europe's Time Bomb, Newsweek, 2005-11-20;
  11. ^ Donald Morrison, What Does It Mean to Be French? The 'Charlie Hebdo' Massacre Complicates the Answer, The New Republic, 2015-01-08;
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ "CNN, too, trafficked in ‘no-go zone’ chatter". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  14. ^ "CNN again hammers Fox News over ‘no-go zones,’ with a touch of hypocrisy". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  15. ^ 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. 
  16. ^ Brian Stelter (January 18, 2015). "Fox News apologizes 4 times for inaccurate comments about Muslims in Europe". CNN Money. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  17. ^ Lisa de Moraes. "CNN’s Anderson Cooper Apologizes On Air For “No-Go Zone” Remarks - Deadline". Deadline. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  18. ^ "CNN’s Anderson Cooper acknowledges mistake on ‘no-go zones’". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  19. ^ Gregory Wallace; Brian Stelter (January 20, 2015), Paris mayor: We intend to sue Fox News, CNN Money 
  20. ^ "Murders and rapes going unreported in no-go zones for police". Mail Online. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  21. ^ Philip Elliott (January 19, 2015). "Jindal: Muslim establish 'no-go zones' outside civic control". Yahoo! News. Associated Press. Retrieved January 19, 2015. 
  22. ^ Grahamjan, David A. (January 20, 2015), "Why the Muslim 'No-Go-Zone' Myth Won't Die",  
  23. ^ Carol Matlack (January 14, 2015), "Debunking the Myth of Muslim-Only Zones in Major European Cities",  
  24. ^ Karen Finney (January 26, 2015), "The No-Go Zone Myth Comes To America", Media Matters blog ( 
  25. ^ "Caliph-ain't",  
  26. ^ NOVOTNÝ, LUKÁŠ (June 2009), "Right-wing Extremism and No-go-areas in Germany", Sociologický Časopis / Czech Sociological Review (Institute of Sociology of the  
  27. ^ Novotny p. 591
  28. ^ Novotny p.596
  29. ^ Seher, Dietmar (August 1, 2011). "In Problemvierteln fürchtet sich sogar die Polizei (de)". Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung. 
  30. ^ "'"BBC News - Florida: 'Easy to stray into a bad area. BBC News. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
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