Editor’s Note: Opponents of increased scrutiny at our borders—heightened travel restrictions from high-risk countries, rollbacks on sanctuary cities, etc.—claim that immigrants don’t create any additional crime problem and haven’t committed terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. They disagree—sometimes violently—that carefully vetting immigrants before they come to our country might head off future terror attacks. They argue that terror by immigrants has not been a problem, so why address a problem that doesn’t exist?
However, there already is precedent for pre-emptive action: European countries where open immigration is embraced have seen numerous deadly terror attacks over the past few years. Paris, in particular, has become a major target. A1F Daily correspondent Chuck Holton recently traveled to Paris to investigate the reports that some areas had been so overtaken by immigrants that they have become so-called “no-go zones”—where law-enforcement officers and other outsiders dare not go.
Here’s his report.
Paris, France: Once synonymous with romantic getaways, fine dining and world-renowned artwork. In recent years however, it’s become better known for horrific scenes like Charlie Hebdo, the Bataclan theater and other massacres.
The first time I visited Paris was in 1987. I was just out of high school and spent a month traveling around Europe, wide-eyed at the fabulous architecture, pretty girls and impeccably manicured parks.
Those things still exist, but the culture that created those things is fast disappearing. An estimated 4.7 million Muslim immigrants now live in France, most entering from poverty-stricken countries around the globe over the last 15 years. This has had the effect of importing many of the very conditions they were fleeing. Now, your cab driver is likely to be Somali, your waiter to be from Pakistan and the languages you hear in the street will likely be anything but French, German or Italian. In France alone, there have been 15 Jihad-inspired terror incidents since the massive multi-cell terror attacks on Bataclan and the national stadium in November 2015.
These aren’t necessarily bad things in and of themselves, but there is much happening here that is bad. A storm of violence is manifesting itself from riots in Sweden to sexual assaults in Austria to horrific massacres in Paris, Brussels, Germany and London. A wave of terror attacks is occurring across Europe with increasing frequency, and European governments want very badly to sweep it under the rug. Why? Because they need immigrants to prop up their socialist welfare states. They need the warm bodies to do the jobs Europeans won’t do, namely breed, work and pay taxes.
In France alone, there have been 15 Jihad-inspired terror incidents since the massive multi-cell terror attacks on Bataclan and the national stadium in November 2015. Many of them are not being reported in the American press. The death toll in France from this Jihadi juggernaut is approaching 300—which, incidentally, is more than the U.S. has lost in the Iraq and Afghan conflicts every year combined since 2013.
Last year, Fox News was roundly mocked in the liberal press when it coined the term “no-go zones” in Paris, used to describe dangerous immigrant enclaves within the city where French law takes a back seat to Sharia. So I decided to go see for myself.
We arrived in Paris almost seven months to the day after the attack on the French train that was averted by three visiting Americans. It was still high tourist season, but the concierge at the hotel admitted that visits are down because of the attacks over the past year. Only weeks earlier, a man claiming allegiance to ISIS and carrying a machete wounded a policeman before being shot. He was an upwardly mobile professional with an iPhone 7 who had entered France on a tourist visa from Egypt. His wife is seven months pregnant.
Security was increased after that attack and was still evident when we arrived. There were lovers kissing along the Carrousel (the courtyard in front of the Louvre with the giant glass pyramid) and people taking selfies everywhere. The immigrants were visible, mostly hanging around trying to sell selfie sticks and models of the Eiffel tower. It made me wonder if perhaps Fox News was wrong. Maybe the “no-go zones” were a figment of someone’s overactive imagination.
Only two weeks earlier, Paris saw widespread anti-police rioting in several sectors of the city. So we hopped an Uber and went to some of those places. The dozens of cars that were reportedly burned in those areas were gone. Things looked, well, normal.
The next morning, we set out on the Metro for Gare du Nord—one of Paris’ main train stations where we had heard one would find large numbers of migrants, and near where some of the recent rioting took place. My intrepid cameraman Dennis and I had taken the time to rig up GoPro cameras to our bags so we could film unobtrusively without using our big expensive cameras. Outside the station there were many Middle-Eastern and African men hanging around, but other than a few hard stares, we weren’t bothered.
We spent a few hours walking around one of the “no-go zones.” I’m not sure what I was expecting to see, but this looked to me like any other neighborhood. In a few places there were large concentrations of Somali men sitting along the curb, and the parks we passed were full of what I would call “military-age males,” mostly staring at their cellphones or playing soccer. Nobody bothered us at all. If this was the “no-go zone,” it appeared Fox News had it wrong.
We headed further north to a neighborhood called Clingancourt. Several people had mentioned it as one of the worst places in Paris. The mood there was definitely darker. Within a moment of leaving the taxi, our cameras were spotted and we were being told, “Do not film here.” One man tried to reach out and cover my GoPro with his hand. Other men were pointing and staring. We were attracting too much attention. It was time to move. We ducked into an indoor marketplace and pretended to be shopping.
Later on, we came across four French policemen on bicycles, so I approached them and asked about the supposed “no-go zones.”
“Do they really exist?” I asked.
They all nodded. “Absolutely. There are places in Paris where we will not go, because our presence will cause more problems than it will solve.” They named Clingancourt as one of those places.
The next day we sat down with Philippe Karsenty, the deputy mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine, a wealthy suburb near the Arc de Triomphe. He’s the son of Jewish immigrants to France. Security was increased after that attack and was still evident when we arrived.
“Ask the police” he said. “Ask the firemen. Ask the ambulances, if they will go in there. They won’t take the risk. These are no go-zones.” Other people we asked confirmed this. One woman cried as she talked about the harassment she can expect if walking in certain areas. “I don’t want to live like this,” she said.
Near Charles de Gaul Airport north of the city is another place where police have been routinely attacked. It’s called “93” for the district it’s in. We decided to make it our last stop on our way out of town. There, within two minutes we were approached by two hoodie-sporting young men who wanted to know what we were doing there. One claimed to be French, the other appeared Middle Eastern. Between my broken French and their broken English, they communicated that if we were journalists or police, there would be trouble. Dennis filmed covertly with his GoPro as they punched their fists into their hands to make their point crystal clear. We smiled and laughed, pretending to be on our way to visit a friend. As we were talking, another rough looking character pulled up in a beat-up Toyota and said something to the men. One waved his finger. “No police. Okay.” The man scowled and drove away.
So this is what we learned. There are indeed zones in Paris where police, journalists and city services just aren’t welcome—which basically shows that the people in those zones are rejecting the French government for their own law.
Calling them “no-go zones” might be something of a hyperbole, since Dennis and I toured these areas. But then again, we are both fairly fit former Army Rangers, and we rarely get hassled anywhere we go. Yet it was made clear by both the police and the population in these areas that French law essentially does not apply within these zones, and as such, there are areas of the City of Lights that have essentially ceased being French.
If police and first responders are reticent to enter these areas, one would hope the people of Paris would at least be able to defend themselves from criminals in their midst. We visited one of a tiny number of gun stores in Paris to find out. At first glance, the store looks about like any small gun shop in the United States, with rifles against one wall and a glass case holding about thirty handguns. Upon closer inspection, however, we noticed that all the handguns were either airsoft or .177 caliber BB guns, and most of the rifles were as well. There were a few “less than lethal” options, but according to the gun store owner, it isn’t legal to carry a firearm for self-defense. “Absolutely. There are places in Paris where we will not go, because our presence will cause more problems than it will solve.”
We asked others about the restrictive gun laws, which did nothing to stop terrorists from bringing in the AK-47s, grenades and plastic explosives used in the Bataclan massacre. They all agreed that it would have been nice if there had been someone at the theater that night who could have stopped the attack, but none were willing to even consider the option of allowing everyday citizens to carry guns for self-defense.
The price of such willful intellectual blindness is clear: French citizens will continue to die as terrorists continue their essentially unfettered reign of terror in France.
There’s a lesson in that for Americans, however, about the incredible value of our Second Amendment.
Chuck Holton is a veteran Army ranger and NRATV correspondent.