Christchurch terrorist attacks
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The Christchurch terrorist attacks were two white nationalist terrorist attacks perpetrated at two mosques, the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre, in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 15 March 2019. The attacks killed 50 people and seriously injured over 30 others. The suspected perpetrator, self described ethno-nationalist eco-fascist Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, has been charged with one count of murder, according to a charging sheet from Christchurch District Court.
A 17-minute video was live streamed on Facebook showing the Al Noor Mosque attack. Just before the attack, an account believed to belong to Tarrant posted a link to an 87-page white nationalist manifesto on Twitter and 8chan.
- 1 The Manifesto
- 2 Scale and legal implications of the shooting
- 3 Aftermath
- 4 Conspiracy theories
- 5 See also
- 6 External link(s)
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
Like fellow self-absorbed extremists Ted Kaczynski, Anders Behring Breivik, and Dylann Roof, Tarrant tried his hand at a grandiose "manifesto" in which he championed the white genocide conspiracy theory. The shooter cited the death of 11-year old Ebba Akerlund by a truck attack in Sweden and the 2017 presidential elections in France as well as visit to the country as the motivations for committing violence. Amid 87 pages of sarcastic shitposting filled with memes, ironic posturing, and numerous self-contradicting positions aimed at trolling the ignorant and amusing his 8chan hate-monger buddies, Tarrant proclaimed that he moved to New Zealand in order to carry out the attack, identified himself as a racist, fawned over his various white nationalist and fascist heroes including but not limited to Oswald Mosley of the pro-Nazi British Union of Fascists (who is quoted once in the manifesto and whom the shooter viewed as the person closest to his own beliefs), the aformentioned Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik (which he viewed as his biggest inspiration and claims to have contacted him and his organization Knights Templar) and American Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, Italian neo-Nazi Luca Traini (who shot 6 African migrants), Swedish migrant high school student killer Anton Lundin Pettersson and British Finsbury Park mosque attacker Darren Osbourne. The shooter also expressed a desire to kill CEOs, drug dealers, various Antifa/Marxists/Communists and politicians such as Angela Merkel of Germany, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Sadiq Khan of London, Britain whom he viewed as "anti-white". The shooter expressed a desire to start a Second American Civil War in order to balkanize the United States along political, cultural and racial lines. He said he supported Donald Trump as "a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose" but not as a policy maker or leader. There are also references to prominent black conservative Candace Owens, the video games Fortnite and Spyro the Dragon and Navy SEALs but as largely trolling.
Tarrant also said he considered the People's Republic of China to be the nation closest to his political and social views (in spite of being communist), which as been accused of trying to assimilate ethnic minorities. Indeed, one of the key objectives of President Xi Jinping is the “Sinocization” of religion. China is home to some 56 ethnic groups, including Uyghurs, Tibetans, Mongols, Koreans, Manchus, and Hui (Chinese Muslims), with the Han Chinese making up 91% of the population. The Uyghur Muslim minority in particular has been persecuted by the Chinese government for their culture and identity but it is not clear whether Tarrant knew this.
Scale and legal implications of the shooting
Prior to the attacks, New Zealand had experienced only one comparable incident in 1990, when 13 people were killed in the small town of Aromoana before the terrorist was shot and killed by police. For perspective, New Zealand had 35 murders reported throughout the entire year of 2017. The country's murder rate was stated to be at an all-time low, making the mosque attacks singular in New Zealand's history of crime. This presents a literally unprecedented legal challenge for New Zealand law, as there is no predecessor against which to compare Tarrant's case. Additionally, the New Zealand justice system establishes convictions of multiple crimes concurrently (rather than consecutively, as is done in the United States); theoretically, it is legally possible for Tarrant to serve a single life sentence for all 50 murders. Although New Zealand does have anti-terrorist laws, such as the Terrorism Suppression Act of 2002, they have never been tested in New Zealand courts. On March 18, Tarrant fired his court-appointed lawyer, Richard Peters, and planned to represent himself in court.
To date, the Christchurch mosque attacks are one of the deadliest incidences of far-right terrorism and the first major mass shooting of 2019 in terms of press coverage/media attention and casualty rate. The attacks are also the most fatal mass shooting against Muslims in the West, as well as the most severe white nationalist-supremacist/neo-Nazi/racist attack on a non-white/non-Christian place of worship in a Western country (surpassing the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting, Charleston church shooting, and Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in the United States, and the Quebec City mosque shooting in Quebec, Canada).
The shooting brought much attention to 8chan, where Tarrant initially posted his manifesto and informed users of his impending video stream of the Al Noor Mosque attack, as well as the "ironic" aspect of meme culture and shitposting neo-Nazism popularized by The Daily Stormer, the /pol/ boards of both 4chan and 8chan, and other white-supremacist websites visited by Tarrant. The Christchurch terrorist attacks brought new attention to online radicalization by the far-right on a variety social media platforms ranging from the mainstream (Twitter and Facebook) to the more obscure (8chan and Gab). Following the attacks, a YouTube channel operated by a user called "Third Positionist," in reference to the supremacist-blending Third Position socioeconomic ideology, was terminated by YouTube following reports from staff members of The Huffington Post and ProPublica. The account termination highlights a rise in white nationalist and supremacist media, utilizing YouTube as an avenue of radicalization.
In the wake of the attacks, Western leaders expressed their sorrow and offered their condolences to the people of New Zealand. Meanwhile, various Muslim majority countries, such as Turkey and Pakistan, blamed Islamophobia for the attacks and accused politicians and the media for stoking hatred against Muslims.
Facebook said it removed some one and a half million videos of the Christchurch massacres on its platform within twenty four hours of the attacks.
“”What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence. It has no place in New Zealand. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities – New Zealand is their home – they are us.
|—NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern|
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pledged to tighten gun laws, in reference to the methods Tarrant used to obtain and modify his weapons. In particular, the sales of "military-style" semi-automatic rifles and accessories that could make a gun semi-automatic, such as "bump stocks," would be banned, as would their possession. Those who currently own such weapons can hand them over during a grace period while officials develop a formal buyback plan which could cost up to NZ$200 million (US$140 million). Currently, there are approximately one and a half million guns in New Zealand, a country of about five million people. Only six percent of weapons are registered. A semi-automatic firearm is one that is able to reload itself after firing. Under New Zealand's law, a military-style semi-automatic weapon has a magazine of seven rounds, or with pistol grips, folding or telescopic butts, bayonet attachments or flash suppressors at the end of the barrel. Police officers, military service members, and professional pest controllers would be exempt. Such a ban is widely supported in New Zealand, where firearm ownership is a privilege rather than a right, as is the case in the United States.[note 1]
Prime Minister Ardern also vowed to never mention the shooter by name and believes it is unacceptable that the shooter was able to live-stream his act of terrorism via Facebook. She said she wanted assurance from social media companies that something similar would never happen again. She announced a Royal Commission of Inquiry, New Zealand's highest form of investigation, reserved for matters of utmost public importance, into what could and should have been done to prevent the Christchurch shootings. Domestic and foreign intelligence agencies, the police, and customs and immigration will be looked at.
Chief New Zealand Censor David Shanks has classified the full 17-minute video of the shootings as objectionable, which means that it is illegal for anyone in New Zealand to view, possess or distribute the video in any form, including via social media platforms. The attacker manifesto has been made illegal in New Zealand too, specifically anyone found to possess the manifesto could face up to 10 years in prison, and those caught distributing it could face up to 14 years in prison. Prior to the banning, Shanks and his staff considered the possibility of raising interest in the Manifesto, but concluded it was justified because the Manifesto encourages acts of cruelty and terrorism. Shanks said journalists and researchers could apply for exemptions from both bans. A number of free-speech advocates, such as Stephen Franks, a constitutional lawyer and spokesman for the Free Speech Coalition, do not object censoring the video, but they do not support restricting access to the Manifesto, arguing that it could spark conspiracy theories and that people should be able allowed to form their own conclusions and "see evil or madness for what it is." At present, New Zealanders are still free to read Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler.[note 2] An eighteen-year-old New Zealander has been arrested for sharing the live-stream and faces a heavy jail sentence if convicted.
The New Zealand Herald released a list commemorating the 50 victims, with remembrances from friends and surviving family members accompanying photos of the deceased.
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a statement in which he expressed sympathy, saying "we are family" with New Zealanders and "condemn absolutely the attack that occurred today by an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist that has taken the lives, stolen the lives, in a vicious, murderous attack, that has claimed so many New Zealanders". A written statement from Australian Senator Fraser Anning caused intense backlash from social media and politicians, after Anning implied the Muslim victims of the shooting shared some responsibility for the violence due to immigrating to New Zealand.  A day later, during a meeting of the Conservative National Party in Melbourne, Senator Anning was approached from behind by a young man while responding to questions from journalists and was struck on the head with a raw egg. Anning immediately turned and struck the teenager twice, after which the teen was tackled to the ground by Anning's supporters.
Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz called for a "ruthless" investigation after it became known that Identitare Bewegung Osterreichs (IBO) the Austrian branch of the Identitarian movement/Generation Identity in Europe had received a donation from the Christchurch shooter. Moreover, this donation was higher than what the movement normally receives. Martin Sellner, leader of the Austrian Identitarians, had his apartment in Graz, Austria, searched by police and had his electronic devices seized. He would later go on record to condemn the attacks and stating the group had nothing to do with him. Although it was ultimately found that there was no ties between Tarrant and Austrian Identitarians nevertheless the government is considering dissolving the group.
Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau condemned the attack in an official statement, recalling the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting by Alexander Bissonnette as an example in which Muslim community members suffered "unimaginable loss and pain in the places where they should feel safest," and pledged to work with New Zealand on taking action against violent extremism. In response to the attacks, police increased security at mosques in Montreal, Gatineau, Ottawa, Edmonton, Toronto, Saskatoon and Quebec City, though Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale stated that Canada's national threat level would remain unchanged at "medium." A vigil was held in Halifax for victims of the attacks, while more than 500 people came together in solidarity at Celebration Square in Mississauga, and an estimated several hundred people mourned the victims at a vigil in Toronto's Nathan Philips Square.
“”Immigrants, especially Muslims, cannot integrate into Western society.
|—The Global Times|
Chinese President Xi Jinping officially denounced the attacks and offered his condolences.
China (which was mentioned by name in the manifesto) had mixed reactions. While the state censorship apparatus is extremely effective at removing online materials deemed undesirable by the Communist Party, it was surprisingly slow in eliminating videos of the Christchurch shootings from Chinese social media networks, such as Baidu Tieba, one of the largest of them all, and other websites. Chinese internet users were still posting and watching the videos almost 48 hours after the shootings took place; some even compared it to a violent video game. Although these were later censored, they were removed later than in Western countries.
State-controlled media exaggerated the severity of the terrorist attacks and seized this opportunity to point to flaws in how Western liberal democracies manage their societies. (See quote above.) In an editorial, state-owned tabloid the Global Times argued that white supremacy is part of "Western values."
Some observers pointed out that the Chinese government has a habit of not wanting to "wash their dirty linen in public." In other words, they tend to avoid discussing China's national problems, yet they often focus on negative developments abroad in order to encourage appreciation for how the Communist Party is running the country, offering peace and prosperity instead of violence and chaos. Furthermore, China, as experts warned, used the Christchurch mosque shootings to justify its policies towards Muslims in the Xinjiang region in northwest China, namely, sending ethnic minorities to detention camps, conducting mass surveillance, and razing ethnic neighborhoods. China also stressed the economic development of this region and accused critics of "slanderous fabrication."
France, the country home to Renaud Camus' The Great Replacement conspiracy theory that the shooter visited also saw him donate to Generation Identitaire the French branch of the larger Identitarian movement/Generation Identity (GI) in Europe along with its Austrian counterpart Identitare Bewegung Osterreichs (IBO). The "New Zealand Herald" April 5, 2019. Accessed April 13, 2019. Shortly afterwards, Camus had condemned the attack.
On March 18, 2019, after nearly six months of silence, the spokesman of ISIS Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, emerged to call for retaliation over the mosque attacks in New Zealand: "The scenes of the massacres in the two mosques should wake up those who were fooled, and should incite the supporters of the caliphate to avenge their religion." New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern received a tweet saying "Revenge is coming" and showing a picture of rifle with white Arabic text and an ISIS flag.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip of the United Kingdom expressed their condolences for the Christchurch community, while Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the attacks and stated the UK "stood shoulder to shoulder" with New Zealand.
“”I informed the Prime Minister that we stand in solidarity with New Zealand – and that any assistance the USA. can give, we stand by ready to help. We love you New Zealand!
|—U.S. President Donald Trump in a tweet|
President Donald Trump of the United States said he spoke with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on the telephone about the "horrific" massacre and offered assistance should New Zealand needs any.
In a rare move, Trump tweeted and later deleted a post in which he linked to the Breibart homepage, which at the time was featuring an interview in which he urged his supporters to play tough and talked about his executive order on free speech on college campuses. Trump only deletes his tweets in cases of spelling or grammatical errors. This interview was conducted before the Christchurch shootings. Breibart, formerly run by former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon, is known for being anti-Muslim and for providing a platform for white nationalism.
Conspiracy theories emerged since the day of the attacks.
An armed guy stopped the shooter?
Some wingnuts claimed that the attack was a false flag in order to attack right-wing activists. Quite ironically, the shooter himself denied that it was a false flag all the while promoting "false flag" conspiracy theories about any future shooting.
I really want to say one thing today. Do you think this guy was alone... I want to ask you - where did he get the funding from? I stand here and I say I have a very very strong suspicion that there is some group behind him [Tarrant] and I am not afraid to say I feel Mossad is behind this
- White genocide, a conspiracy theory the perpetrator subscribes to
- White nationalism
- Kiwi Farms
- The Great Replacement - Towards A New Society, Brenton Tarrant's manifesto. (Banned in New Zealand.)
- Even so, according to AP-NORC polls conducted before and after these shootings, about two-thirds of Americans support stricter gun laws. The shootings had no significant impact on American public opinion regarding gun laws.
- And the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
- "Timeline of the Christchurch mosque shootings". Stuff. March 17, 2019.
- "Mass shooting suspect obtained his guns legally, New Zealand prime minister says". CNN. March 16, 2019.
- The Death of Fascist Irony New Republic, March, 2019
- Shitposting, Inspirational Terrorism, and the Christchurch Mosque Massacre Bellingcat, March, 2019
- New Zealand Suspect Mixed Death and Disinformation Daily Beast, March, 2019
- . The Los Angeles Times. March 16, 2019. Accessed April 13, 2019.
- "[https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/107415102/murder-rate-hits-a-40yearlow-police-say Murder rate hits a 40-year-low, police say". Stuff. September 17, 2018.
- "Terrorism Suppression Act of 2002". New Zealand Parliamentary Counsel Office.
- "Christchurch shooter faces 'extraordinary' jail sentence". Stuff. March 17, 2019.
- "New Zealand shooting: Prime minister says gun reforms are coming". The Washington Post. March 18, 2019.
- "Despite Crackdowns, White Supremacist and Neo-Nazi Videos Take Stubborn Root on YouTube". ProPublica. March 15, 2019.
- World reacts to ‘horrific’ New Zealand mosque massacre by Brenton Tarrant with sorrow, solidarity and fury. South China Morning Post. March 16, 2019. Accessed April 13, 2019.
- Is Chinese media using the New Zealand mosque shooting as a political opportunity?. ABC (Australia). March 18, 2019. Accessed April 13, 2019.
- A closer look at New Zealand's new weapons ban. Associated Press. March 21, 2019. Accessed March 26, 2019.
- Banning of manifesto raises free speech debate in N. Zealand. Associated Press. March 24, 2019. Accessed March 26, 2019.
- New Zealand to probe role of spies, guns in mosque attacks. Associated Press. March 25, 2019. Accessed March 26, 2019.
- "Christchurch shooting video officially objectionable". Office of Film & Literature Classification.
- "New Zealand made it illegal for anyone to download or share the Christchurch shooter’s manifesto". Business Insider. March 25, 2019.
- "Teenager accused of sharing video of Christchurch terror attack denied bail". 9News. March 18, 2019.
- "Christchurch mosque shootings: Faces of the fallen". New Zealand Herald. March 18,2019.
- Prime Minister's statement on the shooting incident in Christchurch, New Zealand Australian Liberal Party
- "Austrian far-right activist probed over ties to NZ suspect". Associated Press. March 26, 2019. Accessed March 26, 2019.
- "Austria considers dissolving far-right group amid NZ probe". Associated Press. March 27, 2019. Accessed April 13, 2019.
- "New Zealand shooting: Austria Confirms Financial Link Between Christchurch Gunman and Far-Right Group". The Daily Beast. March 27, 2019. Accessed April 13, 2019.
- "Statement by the Prime Minister on terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand".
- "Canadian police bolster presence in wake of New Zealand mosque attacks". CBC. March 15, 2019.
- "New Zealand shooting: Canada condemns ‘act of terrorism’ in Christchurch". Global News. March 15, 2019.
- "Halifax hosts vigil to mourn victims of Christchurch mosque attacks". CBC. March 16, 2019.
- "More than 500 in Mississauga pray for victims of Christchurch mosque shootings". CBC. March 16, 2019.
- "Hundreds mourn Christchurch mass shooting victims at Toronto city hall vigil". CBC. March 16, 2019.
- China Stresses Investment, Invokes New Zealand Massacre in Defending Treatment of Muslims. The Wall Street Journal. April 10, 2019. Accessed April 13, 2019. Although the written article may not be visible to all readers in its entirety, one may still watch the video report.
- "Christchurch mosque shootings: Accused gunman donated $3650 to far-right French group Generation Identity"
- "The Inspiration for Terrorism in New Zealand Came From France" "Foreign Policy" March 16, 2019. Accessed April 13, 2019.
- "ISIS Spokesman Ends Silence by Calling for Retaliation Over New Zealand Massacres". New York Times. March 18, 2019.
- . CBS News. March 15, 2019. Accessed April 13, 2019.