- At least 49 people were killed in a deadly attack in New Zealand on Friday after a shooter opened fire at worshippers praying in two mosques in the city of Christchurch.
- So far, a 28-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the attack. The gunman is believed to have published a 74-page white nationalist manifesto before the rampage, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the shooter as an “extremist, right wing” terrorist.
- While New Zealand is generally considered a place of tolerance, white supremacy exists in the island nation. Former intelligence and defence policy analyst Paul Buchanan told Radio New Zealand that Christchurch is home to an active white supremacist community.
- “It shows that we don’t live in a benign environment,” Buchanan said. “We’ve been affected with the virus of extremism.”
Dozens of people were killed on Friday in a deadly attack after a shooter opened fire at worshippers at two mosques in the city of Christchurch in New Zealand, killing at least 49 people and injuring 48 others according to police.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the rampage as one of New Zealand’s darkest days, adding that “it is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack.”
So far, a 28-year-old man has been arrested and charged in connection with the onslaught. Just before the attack, an account believed to be linked to the gunman, under the name Brenton Tarrant, posted a 74-page white nationalist manifesto titled “The Great Replacement.” A copy of the document, reviewed by INSIDER, includes anti-immigration rhetoric; a “white genocide” theory that is a key component of white nationalist ideology; and support for Dylann Roof, who killed nine African-Americans at a church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, and Anders Breivik, a Norwegian white nationalist who killed 77 people in 2011.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the gunman, an Australian national, as an “extremist, right-wing” terrorist.
Friday’s shooting shocked New Zealand, a South Pacific country of fewer than 5 million people, generally viewed as a beacon of tolerance and where gun shootings aren’t common. In the manifesto, the gunman wrote that he chose the island nation to prove that “no where in the world was safe, the invaders were in all of our lands, even in the remotest areas of the world.”
Yet, according to former intelligence and defence policy analyst Paul Buchanan, Christchurch is home to an active white supremacist community.
Buchanan, currently the director of the consultancy group 36th Parallel Assessments, told Radio New Zealand that the community “has attacked refugees and people of colour on multiple occasions over the last 20 years. This is the worst of them.”
“It shows that we don’t live in a benign environment,” he added in the interview. “We’ve been affected with the virus of extremism.”
Muslims are the most rapidly growing religious group in New Zealand, and now make up around one per cent of the population, according to Victoria University of Wellington. The majority of the community comes from abroad, with around 29 per cent identifying as Indian and 21 per cent as Middle Eastern. Yet, the university also found that attitudes toward the community are not always favourable – and 51 per cent of people in a random survey agreed that “Muslims have customs that are not acceptable in New Zealand.”
Officials in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh, Jordan, and Indonesia have reported their citizens as being among those killed or injured, and Syrian refugees are also believed to be among the victims.
New Zealand’s white supremacist community correlates with a general rise of far-right sentiment across the world, magnified online and increasingly in political discourse. In 2009, Kyle Chapman, a former skinhead, and National Front New Zealand leader, ran for Christchurch mayor on the platform of a “Europeans-only” mini-state within the country. Chapman said he wanted to create a place for “like-minded” people where children would not be exposed to the “multicultural brainwashing of current system schools.” He ran on the platform three times unsuccessfully.
Last July, New Zealand granted work visas to alt-right Canadians Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux, who had already been banned from speaking in the city of Auckland and are known for their Islamophobic views, according to Radio New Zealand. And in 2017, a series of White supremacist propaganda posters sprung up around Auckland University, a week after a controversial European Club emerged on campus with what resembled a white supremacist logo, Vice reported.
The online discussion site 8chan, known for publishing hate speech and anti-immigrant rhetoric, had an anonymous post on its site linked to the gunman’s live footage of the Christchurch attack, according to Reuters. During the rampage, the shooter opened fire with rifles adorned with white-supremacist graffiti and listened to music celebrating a Bosnian Serb war criminal,USA Today reported.
In response to the attack, the National Front, a white nationalist New Zealand political party, took to Facebook to confirm none of its members were involved. “The National Front does not condone or agree with this type of wanton murder of innocent people regardless of their religious beliefs,” the post said. “We believe in freedom of speech and freedom to worship whatever god you chose.”
In the aftermath of Friday’s attack, scores of people and organisations across the world, from presidents to CEOs to athletes, came together to offer support and stand up against such hate.
My heart is hurting about the news coming out of Christchurch. Sending love & prayers to the effected families❤️???? pic.twitter.com/7PX9wc56b8
— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) March 15, 2019
“Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities – New Zealand is their home – they are us,” Ardern said. “The person who has committed this violent act has no place here.”
- Read more:
- This timeline of the Christchurch mosque shootings shows how the massacre of 49 Muslim worshippers unfolded in New Zealand
- PewDiePie responds with horror after reports that New Zealand mosque shooter yelled ‘subscribe to PewDiePie’ during attack
- Facebook reacts to live-streamed footage of the deadly New Zealand mass shooting that was posted on its platform
- Here’s what we know about the victims of the mosque mass shootings in New Zealand that killed at least 49 people
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.