The British journalist Andrew Malone some time ago visited the Muslim enclave of Seine-Saint-Denis in Paris. His report on what he rightly called a “state within a state” was hair-raising — so much so that the Daily Mail ultimately removed it after charges of “Islamophobia.” The Guardian reported that “a Daily Mail source insisted the article had only been taken off the site temporarily and the ‘the intention is to restore it’ after considering the complaints and correcting where necessary.” That was in early August; it has not been restored. But what in it was false? It is worth revisiting.
Inside the World Express cafe, groups of men argue in Arabic. On side streets, men smoke shisha pipes and talk — again, in Arabic — on every corner. Women shop in veils and scarves, always accompanied by a male relative.
As a white European, I attract odd looks. When I take out my mobile phone for a photograph, a young man jumps in front of me, waving his index finger in my face, shouting: ‘La! La! La!’ (No! No! No!)
Yet this is not an exotic, far-flung destination. This is France. Moreover, this is Paris and only six miles from the Eiffel Tower.
The reason for all this activity — in an area which even the most optimistic estate agent would struggle to sell as ‘cosmopolitan and bohemian’ — is quite simple: immigration on a mammoth scale.
The area in question is called Saint-Denis in the north-east of the city, where the Basilica holds the resting places of many French kings and queens.
Recently, it was reported that this sprawling district now holds as many as 300,000 illegal immigrants, many of whom rely on crime or the ‘black economy’ to make money. The official legal population in Saint-Denis is estimated at 1.5 million.
Not only that, according to French parliamentarians in a new report that’s causing much anguish across the nation, as many as 420,000 legal residents here are living ‘below the official poverty line’.
The scale of the problem grows each day. An estimated 80 migrants arrive in Paris every 24 hours — 550 a week.
Many head for Saint-Denis because of its closeness to transport links, including the railway lines heading towards the North coast, and Britain.
Britain, these Muslim benefit-seekers believe, will provide them with even more than France does. Ideally, of course, they would most like to settle in Germany or Sweden, the most generous of welfare states. But for now, they will have to make do with Great Britain, if, that is, they can smuggle themselves in.
Migrant camps, set up in tents along the Seine in this area of Paris, were destroyed by the police in May, with the occupants who didn’t get away taken for processing in detention centers after a raid….
There are an estimated 135 different nationalities in Saint-Denis, most extremely poor, including an estimated 600,000 Muslims from North African or sub-Saharan African backgrounds….
Having spent several days in Saint-Denis, it’s clear to me that the area is already lost to France — to the rule of French law, equality, religious freedom, and even access to the streets by the police themselves.
Indeed, this is a parallel state — a state within a state, with its own rules and religious courts — where allegiance to Islam comes ahead of fealty to France.
Police have reportedly admitted the area is a ‘no-go’ zone, and will only drive through the areas armed and four to a vehicle….
Not French law, but Sharia courts, dispense their rough justice. The laws of France are flouted: women wear niqabs, though they are forbidden by law. Drugs are dealt openly. The police do not dare to enter Saint-Denis alone, for fear of being attacked, but when they do go in, as for a drugs bust, they go in groups of four.
And where, as I discovered, other faiths and religions are being driven from the area.
Mosques far outnumber the handful of churches now functioning in Saint-Denis. The French Christians are moving out — why would they want to remain in such a place? As for Jews, they are almost all gone, having fled Saint-Denis for the obvious reasons: being spit upon as they walk in the streets, or physically threatened or attacked. A handful hold on, including a remarkable rabbi, a brave man who refuses to leave, and whom Andrew Malone describes toward the end of his piece as the only person he met in Saint-Denis who would shake his hand.
When helicopters flew overhead in training for the Bastille Day celebrations earlier this month, one man pretended to shoot at them with a machine gun.
Another pushed him away and pretended to fire a shoulder-mounted missile, tracing the missile with his hand towards its targets and shouting: ‘Boom!’ Everyone laughed.
Yes, everyone had a good laugh at the amusing idea of shooting a French helicopter out of the sky. Muslim patriots. That’s Saint-Denis’s version of patriotism. Who says Muslims won’t integrate?