Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal condemned Europe’s Muslim “no-go zones” on Monday, despite the fact that there is no evidence they exist.
“And in the West, non-assimilationist Muslims establish enclaves and carry out as much of Sharia law as they can without regard for the laws of the democratic countries which provided them a new home,” the governor said in a speech in London. “It is startling to think that any country would allow, even unofficially, for a so called ‘no go zone.’”
The idea of “no-go zones” went mainstream last week when Fox News guest Steve Emerson described zones where “religious police” beat those not wearing “traditional Muslim attire.” Prime Minster David Cameron called Emerson a “complete idiot” for promoting the premise and Fox News issued a correction confirming that these zones don’t actually exist.
“To be clear, there is no formal designation of these zones in either country, and no credible information to support the assertion that there are specific areas in these countries that exclude individuals based solely on their religion,” Fox said in their correction.
For the most part, the areas labeled “no-go zones” are low-income, immigrant communities, often with high crime rates. By press time, Jindal’s staff had not responded to msnbc’s inquiries about where the governor was getting his information.
In Jindal’s speech, entitled “Exposing the truth about Radical Islam,” the Republican argues that “Islam has a problem” and Muslim immigrants need to work harder to assimilate into their adopted countries.
“If Islam does not support what is happening in the name of Islam, then they need to stand up and stop it. Many Islamic leaders argue that these are the acts of a radical few,” he said. “Ok, it is their problem, and they need to deal with it.”
Jindal is publicly weighing a 2016 bid (on Monday, he reiterated that he’s contemplating a run and will make up his mind in the next couple of months) but his public moves – sounding off on more and more issues outside of his state – indicate he’s on track for it.
Monday’s speech is perhaps his most controversial stance on foreign policy yet. His remarks are addressed to a right-wing London think tank, but he notes they are largely applicable to American immigration policy, too.
Jindal’s stance settles him far to the right of many world leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Françoise Hollande who have pushed back against anti-Muslim rhetoric, reminding that Muslim leaders have condemned the massacre that’s kicked off a swell of anti-Muslim sentiment.
After his address, Jindal spoke with NBC News on camera.
“I’m all for legal immigration where people want to strengthen America, learn our values, learn our language, work hard, get an education and improve themselves and improve our economy,” he said. “[But] in many ways, you’re looking at folks that want to come and, in some ways, they want to overturn our culture they want to come in and almost colonize our countries.”
Jindal is one of just a handful of non-white GOP leaders with an immigrant background, something he addressed in his London speech.
“My dad and mom told my brother and me that we came to America to be Americans. Not Indian-Americans, simply Americans. If we wanted to be Indians, we would have stayed in India,” Jindal said. “To be clear – I am not suggesting for one second that people should be shy or embarrassed about their ethnic heritage. But, I am explicitly saying that it is completely reasonable for nations to discriminate between allowing people into their country who want to embrace their culture, or allowing people into their country who want to destroy their culture, or establish a separate culture within.”
Last year, Jindal began quietly working to raise his profile nationally – writing a playbook on repealing Obamacare for fellow conservatives, visiting the border to talk about illegal immigration and suing the federal government over Common Core – but Monday’s speech signals that he’s trying to raise his profile internationally, as well.
Jindal seems to understand that many won’t like this view. “The politically correct view is to say that any view - anybody that says that is viewed as being culturally arrogant as being insensitive, having a colonial perspective. I think that’s wrong,” he said.
Still, it’s clear that the message appeals to some conservatives. “Jindal gets it,” wrote Larry Kudlow in the National Review titled “Jindal’s brilliant take on Radical Islam,” after reading an advance draft of the remarks.
The controversy comes in the wake of the deadly terrorist attack in Paris, where radical Muslims who were French citizens massacred the offices of the satirical news magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery store. Public anxieties about terrorism rose and European authorities vowed to redouble their efforts to root out terror cells and planned attacks before they occur.