The home secretary has legitimised a far-right myth and people are furious

Sajid Javid
John Shafthauer

Home secretary Sajid Javid has sent a tweet that’s caused widespread anger. People – including Conservative politicians – have accused him of stirring tensions and “political posturing”. Disturbingly, they’ve also accused him of legitimising a far-right myth. Namely, the myth that there are “no-go areas” in British cities for non-Muslims:


The idea that there are ‘no-go zones’ for non-Muslims in European cities is a myth that’s spread by the right. It’s been debunked publicly and globally. On January 11 2015, a guest on Fox News claimed:

So in Britain there are not just ‘no-go zones’ there are actually cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim, where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in.

[In parts] of London there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to Muslim religious attire.

Ofcom called this “materially misleading” with “potential to cause harm and offence to viewers”. It was also “concerned that the licensee [Fox News] had not acted sooner to correct the statements or to broadcast an apology”.


The most relevant example of the myth being disproven, however, comes from the British Conservative Party. In 2015, then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said:

They have sections in Paris that are radicalised, where the police refuse to go there. They’re petrified. The police refuse to go in there.

We have places in London and other places that are so radicalised that the police are afraid for their own lives. We have to be very smart and very vigilant.

A spokesperson for David Cameron said the former PM described the comments as:

divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson called the comments “complete and utter nonsense”, and said:

As a city where more than 300 languages are spoken, London has a proud history of tolerance and diversity and to suggest there are areas where police officers cannot go because of radicalisation is simply ridiculous.

There’s more

People have found more to criticise in the tweet. Particularly, people are disturbed by Javid distinguishing the criminals as “Asian paedophiles”:

The Guardian reported that human rights lawyer Shoaib Khan said:

This tweet is irresponsible, dangerous and divisive. It is unbelievable that it is a genuine tweet from a serving home secretary, who was previously communities secretary…

Defining these criminals by their ethnicity is also playing right into the hands of the far right. Unless it is now Home Office policy that any time an incident is reported on, the perpetrator’s ethnicity will be mentioned, the home secretary should admit he was wrong, retract this tweet and apologise.

People have also pointed out Javid’s tweet detracts from the broader issue of sexual abuse:


The Southern Poverty Law centre has summed up the myth of the ‘no-go zone’:

The bottom line – as Fox News was forced to admit in four separate apologies – is that while all pluralistic societies include areas that are more or less comfortable for certain individuals depending on cultural expectations, and all cities have high-crime areas (though these two are not necessarily overlapping), there are not now, nor have there been in living memory, actual Muslim-controlled “no-go zones” anywhere in Europe or the U.S.

That the 2018 home secretary is casually repeating this widely debunked myth theory shows how far the Tories have slid since 2015.

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John Shafthauer