Australia and New Zealand’s legacy of white supremacy, coupled with an unchecked Islamophobic political and media landscape, were contributing factors to Friday’s attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, analysts told Middle East Eye.
At least 49 people were shot dead and dozens more injured by a lunatic man with an assult rifle while they were performing their Friday prayers in the city on New Zealand’s South Island yesterday.
Initial investigations said that the killer, who broadcasted live footage of the shootings online and also published a manifesto on the internet, claimed to be acting in order to preserve the white race.
He also writes that his reasons for carrying out the attack include revenge for “hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by foreign invaders in European lands throughout history” and the alleged enslavement of “millions of Europeans” by Muslims.
A Federal MP, Independent Queensland senator Fraser Anning has sparked outrage for blaming Islamic immigration for the Christchurch mosque shooting which has killed 49 people.
He said while any form of violence could never be justified, the growing fear of the ‘increasing Muslim presence’ was behind the massacre.
‘The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program that allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place,’ he said in a statement issued shortly after the Friday prayer shootings.
New Zealander Sahar Ghumkor, an academic based in Melbourne, Australia, who specailises in Islamophobia, told the news portal that politicians and their media in New Zealand and Australia must take some responsibility for the way they have presented Islam to the public.
“Today’s massacre reveals the utter irresponsibility of media and politicians who we must acknowledge have had a role to play in the way people have come to perceive Muslims and Islam,” she said.
Ghumkor said that authorities had ignored calls to tackle growing Islamophobia, even though “studies are consistently showing an increasing hostile sentiment by the public towards Muslims, and linking media coverage to forming these sentiments”.
In an interview with Middle East Eye, Yassir Morsi, a politics lecturer at La Trobe University in Melbourne, said that the attacks were due to “racism and ongoing white supremacy” sentiments.
Morsi added that “hysteria around the Muslim threat” is inherited both from global conversations but also because of the mainstreaming of dangerous ideas that has given the far-right “permission to hate”.
“White supremacy is hinged on the idea that they are victims first and so with mainstream society showing less vigilance, or in some cases sharing ideas about problems of immigrants and the loss of western culture, they’ve had a lot of permission to hate.”
Morsi also pointed out that “Anti-terror legislation allows politicians to dog whistle and point the finger at the Muslim community, that can create and generate media attention to the supposed threat that lies within the Muslim community.”