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"Semi-autonomous" is too broad a term

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

Submitted by Malcolm (Israel), Feb 28, 2015 at 07:09

Daniel Pipes correctly withdraws the term "no-go zones," since it is evidently false if the police sometimes do go into those places. But "semi-autonomous sectors" has the opposite fault: it is too inclusive. Any area of local government, such as a municipality, is "semi-autonomous" vis-à-vis the state. Scotland and Wales have become "semi-autonomous" thanks to devolution in the UK. The differences, of course, are that they became semi-autonomous by a UK Act of Parliament and that their devolved governments do not violate UK law in their practice. Now, the aim of Daniel Pipes was to replace the euphemism "Sensitive Urban Zones" by an explicit description.

But "semi-autonomous sectors" fails to make explicit the illegality of what is going on in those Muslim areas, so it is in effect simply a different euphemism. That leaves us all with two alternatives. One alternative is to expand the definition, at a minimum, to "illegally established and illegally operating semi-autonomous sectors," but accuracy is achieved at the cost of unwieldiness.

The other alternative is to be content with a snappy euphemism, in which case "Sensitive Urban Zones" does have its advantages. For one thing, it is such an odd expression that even someone who comes across it for the first time is likely to suspect that it is a euphemism for a murky reality.

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