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Debunking Maps of Alleged “Islamic No Go Zones” in London

November 9, 2018

By Dan Kaszeta

Various right-of-centre political commenters have, at different times, alluded to the existence of so-called “Islamic no go zones” in Western Europe. Generally, these are defined broadly and variously areas where the local authorities do not have effective police presence, a majority of the local population is Muslim, and “Sharia law” is in effect. Some commenters go as far to state that white people and/or non-Muslims are physically excluded, that there are borders and barriers, or else that Sharia patrols enforce them.

A wide variety of social media accounts and alt-right websites have alleged the existence of such zones in London. The author of this post devotes considerable effort to debunking such theories, as nearly every Londoner finds the very concept absurd. Numerous maps and articles have been posted, alleged to be “proof” or “evidence” of the existence of these so-called “Islamic no go zones.” This post is meant to serve as a resource debunking of such fake “evidence.”

Example 1: Tower Hamlets, Newham, and Waltham Forest

This particular map implies that three London Boroughs are actually no go zones and has been sent to me several times. Looking at published demographic statistics from government sources, the combined population of these boroughs is approximately 932,000 people. These are, indeed, some of the most heavily Muslim areas of the country. However, the combined three boroughs are approximately 30% Muslim. 70% of the shaded area is non-Muslim. Every major religion is present in these three boroughs, with literally hundreds of churches and a number of synagogues easily found through a simple Google search. How this area can be “Muslim only” when hundreds of thousands of non-Muslims live there and hundreds of thousands more commute to work in these areas is not explained. These figures, meanwhile, are approximate, given that the last census was in 2011.

All three boroughs have numerous outlets to sell alcohol, both for on premises and off premises consumption. For example, one can apply here for a licence to sell alcohol in Waltham Forest. The borough of Newham contains one of the largest shopping malls in London, an international airport, and was the site of numerous Olympic venues. The borough of Tower Hamlets contains the Tower of London (hence its name), visited by millions, and a very large banking district (Canary Wharf) which engages in non-Islamic finance (some financial institutions in Canary Wharf have branches or divisions that provide financial products compliant with Islamic finance practices in addition to their normal lines of business).

A brief internet search indicates that the above map actually comes from a far-right blog site called “British Nationalist.” It was posted in 2011.

(All of the links to odd far right sites in this post have been done through donotlink.it so as not to improve their position on search engine results)

Example 2: Tower Hamlets City of London Notice

In early 2018, I was send this notice by three correspondents, claiming that it was an official police notice. This notice purports to notify people that, as of 29th June 2013, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets is a no go zone and that people will be arrested for entering it.

First of all, the tagline “Islam is for Cretins” should be an indicator that this is not a public document. More to the point, this fake notice relies on fundamental ignorance about policing in London. Many people outside of London do not realise that London has several police forces. The City of London Police is not the same thing as the London Metropolitan Police. The City of London Police only serve as the police in the one square mile region of The City of London, which is only a small part of greater London. The rest of London, including the area covered in this map, is under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police. Whoever made this flier did not even grasp this basic fact.

An interesting fact about this map is that it includes the entire Canary Wharf region, which is a very large financial district, as pictured below. (Photo courtesy R. Kaszeta)

A bit of internet research yields the interesting fact that this flier seems to have been circulated by a right-wing blog called “Gates of Vienna” (link) which in turn claims to have got it from someone’s Facebook page.

Example 3: The Acid Attack Map

This map was originally published in the UK tabloid “The Sun” in December 2017 (here). The actual article, by Hugo Gye, talked about some moped delivery drivers having areas they preferred not to deliver to. However, this map has been taken out of context by many commentators who insist on misinterpreting it as picturing “Islamic no go zones.” For example, a right-wing blog called “Creeping Sharia” spread the map and used it imply that these areas of the city are somehow no go zones.

What we see here is a combination of two interesting trends. One is the conflation of caustic liquid attacks, erroneously called “acid attacks” (many attackers use caustic substances that are not, in fact, acids), with Islam. The BBC analysed the statistics on such attacks in a useful article. The majority of perpetrators are either white Europeans or of African/Caribbean descent. South Asians, a demographic category which includes many Muslims, are three times as likely to be the victims as opposed to perpetrators of “acid attacks”.” There’s no evidence tying this form of violence to sectarianism.

The other trend we have to understand is that ANYTHING labeled a “no go zone” will be appropriated by bigots, trolls, and misguided people for their own purposes.

Like the other maps, there is a level of absurdity to the claims that these areas are no go zones. Although this map does not define the catchment areas terribly well, a total of about a million people live in them. Many more commute there for work. One can look at the entry and exit statistics of Transport for London underground stations in the alleged no go zones depicted on the map. At Angel tube station, in the alleged no go zone of Islington, there were approximately 19,200,000 entries and exits from the tube station in 2017. The Camden Town tube station, clearly listed on the map as a “no go zone” had 22,510,000 entries and exits. Quite a bit of coming and going for alleged no go zones.

For live debunking of no go zones, the tfljamcams.net has live traffic cameras in every one of the alleged no go zones. You can see, any time of day or night, what really happens in these alleged no go zones — i.e. many different people, who are all going about their business.

The actual article in the Sun only focuses on a handful of moped delivery drivers. The words Islam and Muslim are not included in the article. Upon being contacted on Twitter, the author clearly explained that the article was not meant to indicate that these were Islamic no go zones for the general public.

Example 4: The Victoria Exclusion Zone

This is an interesting example. It claims to be from a news agency called “Juno News,” which turns out to be a strange blog as opposed to a news source. In fact, this map originally illustrated a local, temporary police measure against street begging, as reported in December 2013 by the Daily Mail. Instead of some no go zone, it was an area where a police officer had the temporary authority to ask someone begging on the street to move out of the zone.

One thing to note with this particular map is that “Victoria” is misspelled, both when it comes to Victoria Street and Victoria Station. Another thing to note, for those who have never been to London, is that Victoria Station is absurdly busy and is the main entry point in London for arrivals from Gatwick Airport. According to UK government statistics for the financial year 2016-2017, there were nearly 76 million entries and exits to the train platforms in Victoria Station. This does not even account the thousands of people who go through the station for other reasons, such as to go to the bus stops or tothe adjacent underground station.

Example 5: Westminster “No Go Zones”

Finally, this map has been provided as an example of no go zones in the City of Westminster. It is actually a depiction of temporary exclusion areas immediately following the Westminster Bridge attack, where police investigations were ongoing. It is taken from a Daily Mail article in March 2017. These police advisories were lifted very quickly. None of these areas are exclusion areas. Several of these areas can be observed using live traffic camera footage, as explained above.

Overall Conclusions

When one delves beyond the realm of maps and dives into social media, there are clearly many other examples of claims of “no go zones” in London.Perhaps a future post can delve into these if there are sufficient interest. These examples cited above broadly cover the majority of the claims. Indeed, claims based on these maps are generally more detailed than many claims on Twitter, which often use vague terms like “East London” or absurd terms like “Eastern London” (nobody in London uses this term) or “Londonistan.”

Several general trends emerge upon examination. While some claims are fabricated entirely out of whole cloth, others take actual events and either draw odd conclusions or twist them out of proportion. The fact that the London Borough of Tower Hamlets had a Muslim mayor for some years led to odd claims that the area was under Sharia law, deliberately muddling the religion of the mayor with the legal framework of governance. The election of Sadiq Khan as Mayor of Greater London has furthered such claims.

In addition, isolated examples have been taken out of context and purported to be representative of widespread circumstances. For example, three extremists formed an unsanctioned “Sharia patrol” and harrassed people in Bethnal Green, Stepney, and Shoreditch (all areas in East London). These individuals were arrested, tried, and jailed. In another incident, the so-called “Ginger Jihadi” was jailed for similar conduct. Videos of both are routinely circulated as evidence.

The best way to debunk the “no go zone” phenomenon is to go to these areas and either observe or engage in conduct that is obviously not in accordance with strict application of Sharia laws. This author’s own efforts in this area have been well noted in the last year, as shown by this example and this one.

Dan Kaszeta

Dan is the managing director of Strongpoint Security Ltd, and lives and works in London, UK. He has 27 years experience in CBRN response, security, and antiterrorism.

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30 Comments

  1. Michael Josem

    The “Victoria Exclusion Zone” used to be a good map of where there were no good restaurants or pubs (except the Goring Hotel) so unless you worked there, it was an awful place to visit.

    With recent developments, including the Nova Complex opposite Victoria Station, and the underway enhancements to Victoria Station, there’s now a whole range of really great places to visit: Bleecker St Burger has some of the best burgers in London, Hai Cenato does great pizza, and Monty’s Deli is about to open and bring *outstanding* salt beef sandwiches. Also, Hamilton (the play) is now performing right there too.

    If you’re a visitor (or resident) to London, you 100% should go and visit now!

    Reply
  2. murali

    There are no such things as official no go zones in London and nowhere is controlled by muslims.

    Reply
    • John Lanseter

      @murali – There are no such things as official no-go zones in London — you are quite correct.

      “Nowhere is controlled by Muslims” ??? Data speaks louder — check the London Borough of Tower Hamlets

      Reply
  3. Andy

    If you are a Londoner you know the whole myth to be absolutely laughable as well as insulting on many levels . Assuming there are not friendships and relationships between all religious and cultural backrounds and thats the way we like it . For the record one area thats been cited, Waltham Forest kicked out the BNP on many occasions when they tried to march and that was a cross community effort . So if you are coming into an area in London with a diverse population, just to be fake shocked and scared then you are just an idiot .

    Reply
  4. Farringdon Mandem

    Islington is always my favourite suggested no-go zone. It’s how I know that the person who suggests it has absolutely no idea about the UK, never mind London, as in the UK Islington is usually the stereotypical home of the posh, effete, limp-wristed metropolitan elite (which is a long way from the truth itself).

    Great article, but sadly I feel it’s just hitting its head against a brick wall of stupidity that has too much blood on it. The people who make these suggestions don’t usually back down from being proven completely wrong: I remember a reddit thread where one London redditor was ‘dared’ to walk around Woolwich with an open bottle of wine by another who was convinced the Sharia police would get him. He proceeded to do it (something which is completely banal for anyone who lives anywhere in London), video it, and post it, but of course the accuser just went quiet and resumed the same kind of stupidity a few days later.

    Reply
    • Dan Kaszeta

      I see what you mean about the brick wall of stupidity. It’s a struggle. However, by doing such things here, on such a widely respected platform, is not without value. Having these resources in one spot is a valued tool for rebutting ignorance. About 5 people today alone tell me this. Also, by doing such things, both here and on Twitter, I ensure that these kind of debunking efforts rate high in the search results on Google.

      Reply
  5. ASLEF shrugged

    I’ve lived in Waltham Forest for 30 years, recently there has been a growing number of young men with beards on the streets but if they’re religious zealots then its the religion of cycling, tattoos, flat white coffee and working for tech start-ups.

    Reply
  6. Jimmy

    It occurs to me that the “Victora” misspelling suggests it may be of Russian origin as a Russian speaker might pronounce it “Victorya”

    Reply
  7. John Lanseter

    As a left-wing piece trying to take down ‘centre-right’ agit-prop, its not a bad piece. But it fails in that the author appears to have no concept of linguistics and their place in the dialogue.

    The use of the term ‘no-go zone’ has been examined by the author as a literal term and obviously found wanting — on those terms — but they shouldn’t be seen like that.

    Example: —
    A – “I have a headache”
    B – “I have an asprin”

    Now in ‘literal’ terms, person B is simply stating that (s)he is in possession of an asprin — nothing else is defined in the speech.

    However – we all know whats going on here —- Anyone can see that person B is making an offer.

    I fear that the author of the piece is making the same errors of judgement.

    Certainly the document examples given were laughable — but they are poor examples.

    There is plenty of proof that persons passing through certain areas are made to feel very uncomfortable — in literal terms — there is no ‘no-go-area’ in place but one is made to feel ‘not welcome’.

    I speak as a native Londoner – At the 2011 census, London had a population of 8,173,941. Of this number, 44.9% were White British. 37% of the population were born outside the UK, including 24.5% born outside of Europe.

    Obviously this does not prove the case for ‘no-go-zones’ but it makes an interesting point.

    Further research

    The BBC Hour Long documentary :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxZquAQMpbo&t=892s

    CNN – not a right wing site

    Reply
    • AH

      So what you’re doing John is trying to make some equivalence between an actual no go zone and somewhere that makes you feel uncomfortable. There is no equivalence. The fact you’re apparently scared of people who look a bit different to you is unfortunate.

      The documentary you link to concerns anti-social behaviour and crime, nothing to to with Sharia law being enforced.

      The CNN report is referencing the short lived activity which resulted in the arrest of three individuals responsible. Any similar activity will likely result in the same police action.

      Relax an Islamic horde isn’t coming to get you.

      Reply
      • John Lanseter

        @AH – Obviously my fault in not making myself clear. There are NO officlal no-go-zones in London . There – does that help?

        Tell that to a young girl walking down Brick Lane E1 late on a summers night in a short skirt – and hear the “muslim patrol” say she’s not welcome. May be not a ‘no go zone’ – but tell me what it is. (BTW these cases are well documented)

        I am certainly not worried about an Islamic Horde as you put it. But I do fear for my own Western Culture but thats another debate

        Reply
        • Farringdon Mandem

          John, I’ve walked down “Brick Lane E1” very drunk with scantily-clad friends of both genders before. We were accosted by south Asian gentlemen, but rather than imposing on our behaviour, they were asking us whether we wanted to come into their restaurants for a curry (where you can bring your own booze!).

          Holding up Brick Lane (which has two long-established communities – Bengali and Jewish – living side by side with trendy hipsters) as an example of London being taken over just shows your cluelessness about life in London. No-one here would think anything of walking around Brick Lane wearing anything at all. There are a couple of off-licences opposite Brick Lane mosque and a pub (the Ten Bells) just up Hanbury Street from it.

          Reply
    • chochazel

      Obviously it’s a far-right tactic employed by morons, and this defence is pitifully idiotic, completely redefining the term ‘no-go zone’ to ‘place with lots of ethnic people that makes racist people ‘feel’ uncomfortable’.

      The idea that you can redefine words and phrases as a defence of blatantly incorrect and misleading statements is right out of the alt-right playbook as described here:

      Reply
      • John Lanseter

        @Chochazel

        My apologies – my use of the leftist term in my OP was not necessary if we are looking purely at data which I hope is a function of Bellingcat.

        I am not far-right – I was a member of the General Management Committee of the Labour Party in Romford in 1963 – I am not a moron – my IQ is above average, (moron – Early 20th century (as a medical term denoting an adult with a mental age of about 8–12): from Greek mōron, neuter of mōros ‘foolish’.)

        If you want to engage in ad hominen attacks then I’ll walk away. If you want to engage in serious discussion then we can do so. But the video attached to your post on the Alt-Right is laughable. I could take this apart bit by bit if necessary. Agit-Prop doesn’t do it. Data Rules

        Reply
  8. concerned citizen

    I’ve lived in majority Muslim areas at a number of times and felt perfectly safe. There were plenty of devout Muslims in traditional dress but they don’t hassle you.

    Reply
  9. robyt

    I am foreigner and lived in stockwell in 2000 for some time. Everybody was from another continent at that time, (I am not saying they did not have worthless british passport papers). At that time I thought the whole “dream” thing of integration and multiculturalism was gone really far too wrong. But I could never imagine in the future a city like that to have so many idol worshippers and in the end jihad lawyer as mayor. I bet financial institutions and international freemasonry organizations do not dare a lot who is the working class at the bottom line of the production chain. Good luck with that, you need a lot of.

    Reply
  10. Simon Jones

    It is interesting to trace the origin of this story. The New York Times reported on an apology from Fox News (see article by Robert Mackey Jan. 18, 2015) about quote: “Muslim-only “no-go zones” in European countries like England and France that are not under the control of the state and are ruled according to Shariah law.” A blog posting from 2006 (and subsequently revised in January 2015) describes the “The 751 No-Go Zones of France” (see: http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2006/11/the-751-no-go-zones-of-france). The actual concept has of no-go areas always existed in some modern form but the more recent concept appears to have roots in studies of gated communities and urban segregation.

    Reply

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