Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio has found himself in hot water over remarks he made April 7, repeating the alleged myth of Muslim "no-go zones" in European cities.
The Republican presidential candidate spoke about the zones during a meeting with the New York Daily News editorial team. A transcript and unedited audio recording of the interview was posted by the newspaper April 12.
The Southern Poverty Law Center said it tracked the "no-go zone" reference to its earliest usages in the Washington Times, a conservative newspaper owned by Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon. The first reference to the alleged no-go zones was in a 2002 Washington Times article, and then it was repeated in the same newspaper by Daniel Pipes, an academic who is a frequent critic of Islam.
The Southern Poverty Law Center acknowledged that “vigilante Sharia squads” do exist in some European cities, with roving groups of Muslim men "governing female modesty and other matters by harassing transgressors," but dismisses them by saying they're condemned by "most" Muslims. The group also acknowledges that Sharia law courts exist in Europe, but compared them to "[a]nalogous Jewish courts" and "Christian tribunals" that resolve "civil and family" issues.
By contrast, statements by Pipes and some Republican candidates seem to suggest the "no-go zones" are places where non-Muslims cannot enter without the threat of physical harm.
Kasich seemed to suggest as much in the Daily News interview.
"And I can't go into a neighborhood, because it's three o'clock in the afternoon, or these things that you read about and hear," Kasich told the newspaper. "And obviously, Europe has a big problem with integration. [...] which they are gonna have to deal with."
In a post critical of Kasich, the left-wing ThinkProgress.org criticized him for repeating the "disproved myth," and took him to task for referencing the no-go zones when other Republicans have since apologized for saying they exist.
Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ben Carson have made similar claims, according to ThinkProgress, "using [them] to advocate for stepped up surveillance of Muslims in the United States."