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VOL. 39 | NO. 11 | Friday, March 13, 2015

No ‘no-go’ zones? No matter. Lynn, Ketron have plan

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File this under ultra-preventative measures. State Rep. Susan Lynn and state Sen. Bill Ketron admit they’ve never seen a “no-go zone” in Tennessee. Yet they are sponsoring legislation enabling the state attorney general to investigate such areas where people and public workers are being systematically intimidated or excluded, report it to the Department of Justice and, ultimately, eliminate such zones to comply with state and federal law.

“There are some people who feel like it is happening in parts of the country and even Tennessee. However, they’re always told, no, this isn’t happening,” says Lynn, a Mt. Juliet Republican.

“But you have to remember, it’s not a legally defined term. Until it’s a legally defined term, it’s very hard to investigate and see if it’s happening.”

Once the term is defined, the attorney general can field complaints, check into the situation and take action.

“We can figure out how to stop it so everybody lives really in peace. That’s why our country was founded, one of the reasons, so we could live in peace. We escaped political persecution, religious persecution,” Lynn says.

Ketron, who is carrying the Senate version of the bill at Lynn’s request, is more specific on the matter, saying he understands “no-go zones” exist in Texas and has been through them himself in London and Brussels, Belgium, with a member of British Parliament.

“In Brussels, we were touring an eastern section of the city and we were asked to leave, that we were no longer in Brussels, we were in Morocco,” Ketron says.

Both areas were Muslim-controlled areas, Ketron says, and a large percentage of Brussels is composed of Muslims who haven’t assimilated to the laws there.

Lynn and Ketron both call this a “preventative” measure to keep commerce moving when people gain control of an area and refuse to allow businesses to operate or different people to live there.

Lynn says she is “interested in intimidation” and its effect on commerce, and when she read about “no-go zones,” she felt the phenomenon was similar to organized crime or gang activity.

“It really harkened back for me to the civic rights era when African Americans were excluded from educational opportunities,” she says.

When black Americans were kept out of restaurants and businesses, no mechanism was set up to defend them and, eventually, the Department of Justice had to come to their rescue, she notes.

Lynn, Ketron share history of similar bills

Paul Galloway of the American Center for Outreach says he can’t speculate on the intentions of Ketron and Lynn. But based on what they’ve said and done regarding the Muslim community, he is concerned their bill could unfairly target the religious group in Tennessee.

Ketron sponsored legislation in 2011 that would have made following Shariah law, part of Islamic code, a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The Eagle Forum, which takes an active stance against “political Islam,” brought Ketron the anti-Shariah bill, which eventually passed in a watered-down version.

Two years ago, Ketron raised questions about a mop sink installed in legislative restrooms, asking whether it was designed for religious uses.

Ketron and Lynn spoke out, as well, on construction of a new mosque just outside Murfreesboro when residents challenged the public notice for its consideration five years ago.

Ultimately, federal courts ruled the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro could occupy its mosque, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the matter.

Frank Gaffney, founder of the Center for Security Policy, who testified for plaintiffs in those court hearings, contends on Fox News that Islamic “no-go zones” have taken hold in Dearborn, Michigan.

A Fox News graphic providing the Clarion Project as its source shows Muslim enclaves in Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, New York, Michigan, Texas, Alaska and California.

These zones are also said to be popping up in Europe, especially across France, though some writers have debunked such statements. Karen Finney of MediaMatters for America says “no-go zones” where police are prohibited are a myth driven by politics and the quest for website page views.

Finney reports these areas are largely Muslim suburbs filled with poverty and ignored by government for years, leading to bad living conditions and little opportunity for children, which leads to radicalism.

Galloway, meanwhile, contends language in the “no-go zone” bill is incredibly broad and could be used to single out religious groups.

At the same time, he points out Lynn campaigned for re-election as a small government legislator who helped ferret out needless laws and eliminate them. Consequently, he doesn’t understand the need for a law to control a non-existent problem.

“I would not favor seeing areas of town being taken over by ethnic or religious groups,” Galloway says, noting he wants sheriff’s deputies and police officers to remain the law enforcement agencies in control.

From a practical standpoint, when Galloway looks at Nashville areas such as Nolensville Road and Murfreesboro Road, he sees places where a Hispanic-owned business could be set up next to a mosque or a Muslim-owned shop.

“It’s diverse,” says Galloway, a Muslim of Mexican and Scotch-Irish descent. He grew up a military brat and moved here six months ago for a job opportunity after 10 years in Houston.

Lynn, a transplant from New York State, says: “This is America. Everybody should be free. Everybody should be free to conduct commerce, to traverse in the streets, to go into privately-owned public spaces.”

When Lynn presents her bill, presumably she won’t have any examples to show fellow legislators. In that case, legislators will have to decide whether this is paranoia or prevention.

Sam Stockard can be reached sstockard44@gmail.com

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