Did the NRA just promote a debunked anti-Muslim myth?

Imagine2050 Staff • Apr 17, 2015

The myth that Muslim “no-go zones” exist in the United States was revived last week during a seminar at the National Rifle Association’s national conference in Nashville.

The website ThinkProgress reported that Steve Tarani, a “certified force options instructor” who touts having over 25 years of experience in law enforcement, gave a speech at the conference where he claimed Dearborn, Michigan has become a Muslim “no-go zone” that is now off-limits even to the police. Tarani claims he witnessed this first hand during a ride-along with a friend who works for the Detroit Metro SWAT Police. He told the crowd:

The street signs suddenly went from English to Arabic. There wasn’t a single English word on any shop or any street sign. And in fact, these little yellow signs were posted all along the edges. Jeremy said to me, ‘this is it. We don’t go past this line.’ And I said to Jeremy, ‘what do you mean? You guys are Detroit Metro. You’re the SWAT team. You can go anywhere you want. What if you get a call over there?’ He said ‘this is it, it’s hazardous for our team if we go past this line.’

I have seen it with my own eyes, witnessed it in the backseat of a car and it is for real. No-go zones exist in the United States.

The idea that places in Europe and the U.S. with a sizable Muslim population are “no-go zones” is a myth entirely fabricated and propagated by the organized Islamophobia movement. In fact, allegations that certain cities in the U.S. are off-limits to non-Muslims often baffle elected officials representing these areas like Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly and Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison.

The “no-go zone” myth is rooted in nothing but bigotry and xenophobia, and Tarani’s efforts to keep it alive are inexcusable.

Yet baseless though they are, fears that Muslim-only areas are taking root in the U.S. did not come out of nowhere.

The Muslim “no-go zone” rhetoric reached mainstream audiences earlier this year after Fox News invited a cadre of anti-Muslim activists onto its programs in wake of the tragic Charlie Hebdo attack. These opportunists used the tragedy to raise the alarm about Muslim “no-go zones” in France and warned that such places would soon be making their way to the U.S. as a result of an increased Muslim population.

The myth got so out of hand that Fox issued a rare apology for its “regrettable errors” while reporting on the so-called no-go zones.

When opportunists mix anti-Muslim fear mongering with firearms, what exactly are they trying to stir-up?

This apology came after anti-Muslim activist Steve Emerson appeared on Fox’s Justice with Jeanine Pirro and falsely described the English city of Birmingham as “totally Muslim.” The allegation was widely criticized and mocked worldwide, including by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who dubbed Emerson a “complete idiot.”

Emerson, however, was not the only one doling out this rhetoric. Notorious anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney is also guilty of accusing Dearborn of being a Muslim “no-go zone.” During an interview on Tony Perkins’ “Washington Watch,” Gaffney dubbed the city “Dearbornistan” and claimed it has become a “ghetto enclave in which it’s Muslim-only and others, if they are not effectively proscribed or prevented from going in, know that it is too dangerous to go.”

In a separate appearance at Fox, Gaffney claimed that Dearborn is only one of the areas in the U.S. that is becoming off-limits to non-Muslims. To explain this mythic phenomenon, Gaffney said, “we’ve had populations dropped in this country as refugees in areas they are not assimilating. They are becoming, I’m afraid, ghettoized.” Even elected officials such as Louisiana Governor and 2016 presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal echoed this “no-go zone” rhetoric.

The “no-go zone” myth is rooted in nothing but bigotry and xenophobia, and Tarani’s efforts to keep it alive are inexcusable. As we have previously written at Imagine 2050: When opportunists mix anti-Muslim fear-mongering with firearms, what exactly are they trying to stir-up?

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