Sinan Can about no-go areas in Europe: ‘There was a constant fire’

Normally Sinan Can can be found in the Middle East with a camera crew, but for his new documentary Fault lines he spends a year in so-called ‘no-go zones’ in European problem neighbourhoods. Bee Khalid & Sophie the documentary maker tells about what he found there.

Can traveled to the suburbs of Paris, where there is a lot of crime and unemployment. “I travel a lot to the Middle East, so I was shocked that it is also so miserable in some places around here,” says the documentary maker. “They almost don’t last. They feel like they are abandoned. The state has withdrawn from those neighborhoods and so the neighborhoods are being taken over by criminals.”

Sinan Can: ‘There was a constant fire in this district’

As an example, Can mentions the suburb of Clichy sous Bois, which is located east of Paris. “I have never seen such a place in Europe. Think of chunks of concrete thundering down, constant fires and rubbish not being picked up. The alleys deal. If a police does come into the neighborhood because teenagers are messing around, it is with tear gas. What you see a lot there is that the state is withdrawing.”

For example, Can sees with his own eyes how a tunnel in Clichy sous Bois, which led to the inner districts of Paris, is closed by a number of masons. According to residents of the problem neighborhood, this was commissioned by the Paris police to keep the problems out of the center. Popularly in Paris today it is called ‘the wall of shame’. And in another neighborhood too, it has been ensured that people cannot walk from one side to the other by means of road blocks. “As a result, those people become even more isolated,” says Can in Khalid & Sophie.

Documentary Broken Lines is about no-go zones in Europe

Also in Sweden, a country that is seen as an example for many when it comes to prosperity, there is a notorious district. It concerns Rinkeby: a district east of Stockholm. According to Can, it is even one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Europe. “We were there with the director and a cameraman. We were told not to come out after 8pm. At one point there were attacks against the police and a bomb exploded at the police station. Then the police left.”

Can also see harrowing situations in Molenbeek, a dangerous neighborhood in Brussels. There he speaks with a woman who has lived there for fifty years. “When we came here it was a dream to live here. Everything was clean. All Belgians among themselves, talking to each other. A real village feeling.” Because of all the crime in her neighborhood, the woman hardly dares to leave her street. And so the woman, like many, votes for a right-wing party. “Macron may have won now, but who says Le Pen won’t win in four years?” Can wonders about French politics.

‘Keep investing in community police officers’

There are no such problem neighborhoods in the Netherlands as in Paris, Sweden and Belgium, but if, for example, community police officers or facilities disappear due to budget cuts, they can arise. “I also see this as a wake-up call for Dutch policymakers. Watch this series and make sure this doesn’t happen in the Netherlands. Don’t give up,” he said in an interview with the news agency ANP.

Watch the episode of Khalid & Sophie back on NPO.

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Documentary Sinan Can about no-go zones in Europe: ‘The concrete chunks constantly fell down’

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