The parallels between Daesh and violent white ultranationalists should inspire everyone to be vigilant against a rising tide of far-right terrorism and the mainstream narratives that enable it.
Although the story is still unfolding, it is now clear that far-right, Islamophobic, white supremacist terrorists have massacred 49 New Zealander Muslims, including women and children, as they offered prayers at two mosques in Christchurch in one of the worst mass shootings in history.
Apparently inspired by Norwegian far-right terrorist, Anders Breivik, who killed more than 70 children in 2011, the terrorists orchestrated a vile attack that including shootings, explosive devices (that were found and disabled), and all manner of bloodthirsty mayhem.
All of this was to send a message to Muslims that they are not welcome, they can never be part of the societies they live in, and that they will be harmed if they stay, whether they are citizens or not.
The parallels between Daesh and the far-right
Ironically, there are many parallels between the way these far-right terrorists conducted their atrocity and Daesh, one group the far-right frequently points to when justifying their hatred of all Muslims rather than the minority of terrorists who kill more Muslims than any others.
One of the terrorists, Brenton Tarrant, took a leaf out of Daesh’s shock factor playbook and live-streamed himself on Facebook, walking into prayer rooms and gunning down defenceless Muslims, pausing only briefly to reload before continuing his vicious attack.
In one section of the disturbing footage, Tarrant can be seen shooting a woman outside one of the mosques, calmly walking over to her as she lay bleeding on the floor calling for help, and proceeded to shoot her twice in the head coldly.
Considering how often white supremacist groups have attempted to smear all Muslims as being suicide bombers, one of the four attackers who was arrested was wearing an explosive vest. Such graphic and widely shared violence is a hallmark of Daesh attacks and executions, and must now also be recognised as part of the modus operandi of fascistic white supremacist organisations.
Also similar to Daesh is Tarrant’s online manifesto. Tarrant describes himself as an “ordinary White man [sic]” who is 28 years old, Australian and of “Scottish, Irish and English stock”.
Like Daesh terrorists, Tarrant states that he is doing what he is doing “to take a stand to ensure a future for my people,” and suggests that he has been active in violence against Muslims by describing himself as a “kebab removalist”, a racist term that comes from a far-right Islamophobic meme originating from Serbian war songs praising convicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic who perpetrated genocide against Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995.
The fact that Tarrant is referencing well-documented far-right memes and anti-Muslim propaganda shows that he was in all likelihood radicalised online. Again similar to many of Daesh’s adherents, Tarrant admits that he was an uneducated failure “barely achieving a passing grade” and with “little interest in education.”
As discussed in countless other articles, many so-called Muslim terrorists have close to little understanding of Islam and are barely practising Muslims themselves. The same could be said of white supremacists, who know very little about their nations’ histories, how modern society developed in their countries and the price we all paid when ideologies like theirs took over countries like Germany in the 20th century.
One final parallel between these fascist terrorists and Daesh is their use of online sources of revenue and cryptocurrency. While Daesh and even Al Qaeda are often quite intelligent in how they hide and transfer money across borders, Tarrant specifically mentions raising funds by way of Bitconnect, a digital coin that ironically is not designed for privacy and security.
Still, his lack of education and intelligence is not surprising, but the fact that he used crypto demonstrates a possible confluence of methods adopted by Muslim extremists and white supremacists.
Islamophobic rhetoric becoming mainstream
What is amazing, however, is that Tarrant’s entire manifesto is primarily based on an Islamophobic and anti-immigrant angle. The sheer stupidity, then, of Tarrant, an Australian, going to New Zealand to kill New Zealanders just because he deems all Muslims to be foreigners.
His behaviour hearkens back to an imperialist past where white people travelled to distant shores in modern New Zealand and Australia all the way from Europe to perpetrate genocide against indigenous populations and then claim the land for themselves. They now have the temerity to hate and murder others for largely legitimately coming peacefully to the lands their ancestors so brutally prised from the hands of others.
But none of this should surprise us considering the sheer vitriolic rhetoric coming from politicians in Australia, where Tarrant and his comrades appear to have been radicalised.
In an absolutely disgusting press release, Queensland’s Senator Fraser Anning allowed one sentence to condemn today’s atrocity, before dedicating the rest of the text to demonising Muslims with such words as “Let us be clear, while Muslims may have been the victims today, usually they are the perpetrators” and “Islam…is the religious equivalent of fascism.”
In clear Islamophobic terms, and right before referencing the Bible, Anning said: “Just because the followers of this savage belief [Islam] were not the killers in this instance, does not make them blameless.”
In other words, an Australian senator openly said that 49 and possibly more Muslims who were doing nothing but peacefully praying shared in the blame for their own murders.
When mainstream politicians espouse such violent and irrational ideological hatred toward Muslims, whether in Australia or the Netherlands with the likes of Geert Wilders, is it any surprise that white supremacists feel emboldened to turn to terrorism and murder?
One particularly intriguing example is that of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's son, Yair Netanyahu who tweeted: "And I will remind him that Istanbul is actually a city called Constantinople! The capital of the Byzantine empire and center of orthodox Christianity for more then a thousand years before Turkish occupation!"
The Christchurch terrorist's 74-page manifesto contains passages which eerily echo the same sentiment as Yair Netanyahu using language like the "Turk invaders currently occupying our lands" and, "We are coming for Constantinople and we will destroy every mosque and minaret in the city. The Hagia Sophia will be free of minarets and Constantinople will be rightfully christian owned once more."
Much of the blame for what happened today lies with the mainstream politicians who allow such rhetoric to continue unchallenged, and who pander to an Islamophobic media that despises Muslims and expressions of Muslimness. In many ways, this makes far-right ideology actually more dangerous than Daesh, as no one in the mainstream supports them.
Today, Muslims are the victims. But how long before Christchurch is forgotten, much like the Quebec mosque massacre in 2017? How long before the newspapers and mainstream media begin demonising Muslims anew? I bet their sympathies will fizzle away before the week is out.
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