A 28-year-old Australian whose assault rifles bore anti-Muslim and White-supremacist slogans killed 50 Muslim worshippers last month at two mosques in New Zealand where they had gathered for Friday prayers. What made this atrocity more devastating was the fact that the shooter filmed the attack using a head-mounted camera, live streaming the assault to Facebook.
This was one of the most lethal terror attacks in modern times. New Zealand has charged the suspect with murders.The incident is being viewed as ]a “lone wolf” attack with a fascist agenda. The shooting is the latest example of violence encouraged by a fast-growing ideology of white superiority.
The massacre showed that white supremacist terror is as much an international threat today as Al Qaeda or Daesh. White supremacist networks communicates in much the same way as other global terrorist networks.
In 2018, Robert Bowers, a white supremacist, killed at least 11 Jewish worshipers at a Synagogue in Pittsburgh. In 2017, a 27-year-old white supremacist, Alexandre Bissonnette killed 6 worshippers at a mosque in Quebec, Canada. In another white supremacist terror attack in 2015, at least 9 African American worshippers were shot dead at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.In 2014, Frazier Glenn Miller, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, killed three people at a Kansas Jewish community centre. In 2011, a Norwegian terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in Norway.
Although the shooters acted alone in all of these above mentioned attacks, they all had similar sentiments the basis of which comes from the fast spreading ideology of white supremacy and conspiracy theory called the “white genocide” or “the great replacement”. The central idea of this conspiracy theory is that whites are being replaced by Muslims, Jews and blacks and the fear that in times to come the West would be dominated by non-whites.
The attacker in the Christchurch shooting was inspired by this same white supremacist ideology. Just before the shooting, the gunman posted the so called manifesto titled The Great Replacement on 8chan, an online forum which is known for right-wing debates.
In Europe, mass immigration and declining white populations are a major battle cry for the right wing parties and leaders. Several mainstream leaders, including French politician Marine Le Pen and US President Donald Trump have been fuelling the white nationalist rhetoric
The manifesto outlines his motivation, advocating a right-wing and anti-immigrant ideology and appears to be inspired by the work of a French right-wing writer Renaud Camus, who had introduced the conspiracy theory The Great Replacement (Grand Remplacement). The theory espouses the idea that non-white migration in France is a threat to white culture and that white population is getting replaced through mass immigration and high non-white birth rates.
In his manifesto, the Christchurch shooter identified himself as Brenton Tarrant a “regular white man,” born in Australia to “Scottish, Irish and English stock” parents. He wrote that he was carrying out the attack to “reduce immigration rates to European lands by intimidating and physically removing the invaders themselves.”
The gunman also mentioned in his manifesto the Battle of Vienna in 1683 which is celebrated by white nationalists as a turning point in history. In a footage which the Christchurch shooter broadcast live on social media before and during the attack, he (the gunman) is seen listening to a Serbian nationalist song which praises Radovan Karadzic, a Bosnian Serb leader who was convicted for genocide and other war crimes against Bosnian Muslims. The song is popular among radical white nationalists.
In Europe, the mass immigration, especially Muslim immigration, and declining white populations are a major battle cry for right-wing parties and leaders.Several mainstream leaders, including French politician Marine Le Pen and US President Donald Trump have frequently fuelled the white nationalist rhetoric.
Although, Donald Trump has never said that migration poses a danger to white Americans, on numerous occasions he has made comments behind which lies a white nationalist ideology. During his visit to Britain last year, Donald Trump said that “Britain was losing its culture” and that immigration had “changed the fabric of Europe”. He suggested that immigration was “a very negative thing” for Europe. White nationalists rejoiced at Mr Trump’s comments last year when he ridiculed migrants from Africa as coming from “s—hole” countries and said he preferred people from countries like Norway.
Mr Trump has a long history of being tough on Muslims and other minorities and of being critical of them; but when it comes to condemning white supremacy and violent white nationalism, he is reluctant. When a reporter asked President Trump about the growing danger of violence by white supremacist, Trump responded that he did not view white nationalism as a threat. “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess.” Mr Trump said.
Leaders around the world cannot downplay or turn a blind eye to the rising white supremacist terror threat. The dangers are not limited to the US. The threat is the same in France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Australia, Canada and Germany.
As this rhetoric spreads we can anticipate more lone-wolf attacks and more terror. The New Zealand attack is a reminder that the white supremacist ideology has become an international threat.
The author is a research fellow at the Strategic Studies Institute Islamabad (SSII)
Originally published in Daily Times