– By Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers –
HRWF (18.03.2019) – Far-right terrorism has a history of promoting anti-Muslim sentiments and perpetrators must face maximum consequences.
On Friday 15 March, 50 people were killed and as many seriously injured in mass shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.
Footage of the massacre was live-streamed online, and a rambling manifesto laced with white supremacist references was published just before the shootings took place.
This terrorist attack is all the more heinous because it targeted places of worship during Friday prayers.
The list of victims includes people from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Jordan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.
Three people were arrested in connection with the shootings: Australian national Brenton Harrison Tarrant (28), a white supremacist, was charged with murder. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the suspect as an “extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist”. The court charged a second shooter, 18, with “intent to excite hostility or ill-will.”
Brenton Harrison Tarrant said he was “inspired” by mass killer Anders Behring Breivik, a far-right terrorist who killed seventy-seven people in Norway in 2011. Breivik first killed eight people by detonating a van bomb amid Regjeringskvartalet in Oslo. Then, he shot and killed sixty-nine youth who were participating in a summer camp of the Workers’ Youth League, affiliated with the Norwegian Labor Party, on the island of Utova. Although he was anti-Muslim, his terrorist attack was not targeting Muslims. In July 2012, he was convicted of mass murder, causing a fatal explosion, and terrorism. He was sentenced to twenty-one years in prison – particularly preventive detention, which requires a minimum of ten years sentence – with the possibility of one or more extensions for as long as he is deemed a danger to society. This is the maximum penalty in Norway.
On 29 January 2017, anti-Muslim fanatic Alexandre Bissonnette killed six men at a mosque in Quebec City, Canada. He was sentenced to life in prison.
On 19 June 2017, far-right terrorist Darren Osborne killed one person in north London after he plowed a van into a group of Muslims near the Finsbury Park Mosque.
On 5 August 2017, a bomb went off in a mosque in Bloomington (Minnesota) as the faithful were gathering to pray. Luckily, no one was killed. One of the three suspects told authorities he bombed the mosque to “scare” Muslims “out of the country.”
In 2018, three men planned to detonate four vehicles filled with explosives to level an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas, that also accommodated a mosque. The complex was home to many Somali refugees, and the three men not only expressed hatred for them, but also for all “Muslims in general. The three men were sentenced earlier this year to at least twenty-five years in prison.
Far-right ideologies are a plague in society, which we must seriously seek remedies for.
Human Rights Without Frontiers maintains that perpetrators of acts of violence or terrorism targeting religious groups and individuals must face the maximum consequences.