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(Jewish) Ghettos in Europe, Harlem in the c1950's, London's East End, & Five Points, Manhattan

Reader comment on item: Does Europe Have No-go Zones?

Submitted by Ludvikus (United States), Jan 22, 2015 at 22:00

Dear Daniel Pipes,

I don't think what you describe here as un-namable in the English language is in fact so, or that we cannot find any historical precedent in the West that competes with the notion of "No-go zone."

Consider, in your search, what is known in NYC history as the "Five Points (Manhattan}" neighborhood. Wikipedia quotes like this: "Five Points gained international notoriety as a disease-ridden, crime-infested slum that existed for well over 70 years." See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Points,_Manhattan.

I think if you follow closely the history of this place before its clearance you will find precisely the example of what you called a "No-Go zone."

At the time, the place that competed with the Five-Points neighborhood of Manhattan in such notoriety as a "No-Go Zone" was "London's East End": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_End_of_London

And personally remember as a child riding in a car in the 1950's and being told to roll down the window because Harlem, then, was a "No-Go Zone" for "white folks."

But the best tern for such phenomena comes I think from the Jews 2,000 years history in Europe. It is the Ghetto which existed in much of Europe, and were only swept away with the invading Grand Army of Napoleon Bonaparte.

So if you need a special word or expression, why not consider the expression "Muslim Ghettos"?

All these places have this common phenomena - the full extension of the sovereignty of the state is limited. The residents are ostracized as "other," and poverty and criminality are taken for granted as peculiar to the population within the defined (with border) urban neighborhood. I probably omitted the Roma, who lived in the countryside, but were similarly stigmatized and ostracised.

On the other hand, if one were permitted to be "politically incorrected," perhaps these should be called "Muslim Colonies," not completely different from the Puritans and Pilgrim who came to the East Coast of the current United States and pushed themselves on the frontiers of the indigenous natives living here already for 1,000's of years.


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Daniel Pipes replies:

"Ghetto" seems wrong to me because the Jewish ghetto, from Venice forward, were prescribed by the ruling authorities.

But your point about Harlem does bear on the discussion of Muslims in Europe.

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