New Zealand Terror Attack
Terrorism is one of the most problematic issues for countries around the world because of its increased prevalence and devastating effects. However, for New Zealand, the situation is a little different. New Zealand has experienced few terrorist incidents in its short history; hence the terrorist threat is generally regarded as very low. The Huntly Rail Bridge bombing in 1951, Wanganui Computer Centre bombing in 1982, Wellington Trades Hall bombing in 1984, and Rainbow Warrior bombing in 1985 are the only terror attacks in New Zealand’s history. From the data provided it is clear that there is a reason to profile terrorism as a low-level risk in the nation. On 15 March 2019, 28-year-old Australian-born Brenton Tarrant opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch killing 50 individuals in the process making the attack the worst mass shooting incident in New Zealand soil since the Featherston riot in World War II. In the aftermath of the attack, some queries came up, the first being why an Australian citizen would journey to New Zealand to attack Mosques.
Before committing the crime, Brenton Tarrant posted a 74-page manifesto in which he admired Norwegian born mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik as well British fascist leader Oswald Mosley. From the information that the New Zealand authorities have presented to the public so far, the Christchurch killings were planned and fueled by a right-wing militia who drew support from international idealists. In his Manifesto, Brenton Tarrant plagiarized the title of French anti-immigration writer Renaud Camus’s manuscript “The Great Replacement” (Le grand replacement) (Frazee, 2019). Therefore, it can be argued that the demonization of the Muslim faith by political figures as well as other society figures across the globe can be termed as the reason for the attack. For example, Britain’s Boris Johnson similar to other politicians across the globe offered his “thoughts and prayers” after the attack. However, a week prior he had written in a popular British newspaper that women dressed in the traditional burqa look like “bank robbers” (Frazee, 2019). Additionally, Australian senator Fraser Anning said that Brenton Tarrant’s actions were a consequence of “the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place” (Frazee, 2019). Indeed, his words indicated that Anning’s thoughts were not with the victims of the massacre and he used the incident as a platform to introduce unwanted reforms that would only bring a division of the New Zealand people. Terrorism of any kind feeds on social polarization that makes individuals focus on people’s differences thus leading to further violence.
The terror attacks at Christchurch reveal an ailing social order, particularly because of the actions of white nationalists and other forms of right-wing terrorists. In the United States, Jews and Muslims have been targets of right-wing violence, which has been on the rise since the September 2011 attack in New York City. Currently, the Trump administration has reduced resources placed on focusing on right-wing groups despite the growing threat of mass shootings against minority groups. Additionally, despite the decrease of jihadist violence on American soil, the authorities have indicated their concern about working to stifle the rights of Muslim individuals under the pretext of security. Such rhetoric was bound to be transferred to other locations and a clear indication of why an Australian would travel to New Zealand to attack mosques. The media is always expected to play a major role addressing the issues of polarization considering the fact that the society depends on this institution for information. However, it has failed to do so. Although both digital and mainstream media covered the Christchurch attack incident globally, the rhetoric of hate had not been filtered before and maybe this attack may, it is time to sniff out hate speeches or messages from public platforms.
Frazee, G. (2019). What the New Zealand shootings tell us about the rise in hate crimes. PBS online New. Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/what-the-new-zealand-shootings-tell-us-about-the-rise-in-hate-crimes