In an interview on Monday with German broadcaster n-tv, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel left officials speechless after admitting that “no-go zones” do exist in various parts of the country.
No-go zones are areas tainted by violence and crime and are usually deemed off-limits to outsiders – including police. Conservatives and populists have warned that no-go zones would be a partial consequence of mass Muslim migration from the Middle East and Africa. Merkel famously enacted an open-door immigration policy in 2015.
Merkel recently revealed her zero-tolerance policy on crime, which includes an effort to ensure the safety of individuals in public spaces. When asked to expand, the German chancellor effectively admitted that she was talking specifically about no-go zones.
“It means, for example, that there cannot be any no-go areas, that there cannot be areas where no one dares to go, but there are such places,” she said. “One has to call them by name and do something about it.”
When asked to name the areas, Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters that “the chancellor’s words speak for themselves,” The Washington Post reported.
Any notion that no-go zones existed in Germany had previously been dismissed by many German officials. However, at the start of this year, Police Union Chief Rainer Wendt revealed that authorities are sometimes unable to enforce the law due to a rise of dangerous no-go zones as a result of mass immigration. He demanded German politicians get crime levels under control or risk “police-free zones in Germany.”
The police chief said the no-go areas could end up being ruled under criminal laws or even Sharia law, rather than those set out by the German government.
Merkel’s comments sent a shockwave through Germany, and leaders of many other European nations also felt the need comment on her statement.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government hailed Merkel’s comments as a victory.
“Today, it seems this taboo has been broken. Guess who is talking about ‘no-go zones’?” a blog post on the Hungarian government’s official website said. “That we’re finally calling them by name signals a step in the right direction.”
As a result of Merkel’s open-door immigration policy in 2015, Germany saw more than a million refugees enter the country. Heated debates on immigration and Germany’s integrity following the mass migration led to an uncomfortable election result for Merkel last September and millions of Germans calling for change.
It remains to be seen what action Merkel might take now that no-go zones do appear to be an open issue for Germany.