New Zealand terror and ISIS: Writers are comparing far-right extremism to ISIS

She notes that the New Zealand terrorist referenced a Swedish girl killed in a terror attack in Stockholm to justify his mass killing, while ISIS did the same before the genocide of the Yazidis in 2014.

March 16, 2019 20:03
3 minute read.
Istanbul women demonstrate to protest the Christchurch mosque attack in NZ, 2019.

Women take part in a demonstration to protest against the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand, Istanbul, Turkey, 2019.. (photo credit: REUTERS/MURAD SEZER)


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The far-right and ISIS look alike after the New Zealand terror attacks, authors and commentators across the Middle East are arguing.

As the Middle East comes to grip with the tragic mass murder in New Zealand, including the loss of relatives of numerous people form the region, some see aa direct parallel to the extremism that has displaced and killed thousands closer to home.

The adoration that New Zealand terror suspect Brenton Tarrant had for Christian leaders of the past who fought Muslims is a reminder of the admiration ISIS and other extremists had for Salah al-Din al Ayyubi (Saladin) and and Nur ad-Din, a 12th century Syrian ruler who fought the Crusaders, argued Rasha al-Aqeedi, at Irfaa Sawtak.

Her piece, titled ‘Inspirational Hatred,’ notes that both ISIS and far-right extremists use speech to exploit their listeners demands for “revenge” based on some perceived wrong.

She notes that the New Zealand terrorist referenced a Swedish girl killed in a terror attack in Stockholm to justify his mass killing, while ISIS did the same before the genocide of the Yazidis in 2014.

The far-right and ISIS are also learning from one another in tactics, and targets. Lebanese writer Hazem al-Amin argued at Daraj that many ISIS-inspired terrorists, such as an attack in Nice in 2016 and at a gay night club in Orlando in the same year, were inspired by Islamist extremism and carried out by individuals with a history of mental illness.

What is happening in the West, Al-Amin, argues is that the far-right is on the rise under the notion of “populism.” He notes that the New Zealand perpetrator referenced US President Donald Trump in his manifesto, “while the analogy to the murderer of worshippers in New Zealand may seem like lone wolves, the resemblance lies not in the analogy but in the availability of the same conditions that produced the crime here and there.” 

At TRT in Turkey Tallha Abdulrazaq argues that "the far-right and Daesh [ISIS] look awfully alike after Christchurch terror attack.”

There are parallels between the far-right terrorists and ISIS. He notes that the far-right terrorists even point to ISIS to justify their hatred of Muslims. “Brenton Tarrant took a leaf out of Daesh’s shock factor playbook and live-streamed himself on Facebook, walking into prayer rooms and gunning down defenseless Muslims.”

Abdulrazaq makes other connections, noting that while the method of attack was similar to ISIS crimes, that the attacker also may have shared the same ignorance of ISIS members.

He notes that many ISIS members have “close to little understanding of Islam,” and that the New Zealand terrorist had little understanding of the history of the western countries he claimed to be defending by his attack.

The TRT article notes that the rise of the far-right in countries around the world has laid the groundwork for a swamp of hate that leads to these kinds of attacks. “Today, Muslims are the victims. But how long before Christchurch is forgotten much like the Quebec mosque massacre in 2017? How long before newspapers and mainstream media begin demonizing Muslims anew?”

The three articles are important for examining how the discussion about far-right extremism, whether the far-right variety of ISIS, or the far-right variety found in Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik and anti-immigrant terrorists in the West, is finally drawing similar conclusions.

For many years there was little acknowledgement that the processes of radicalization or methods of terror used by those in the West might be similar to those like Al Qaeda or ISIS.

This also was connected with the refusal to label these deeds “terrorism,” a frequent critique when trying to examine responses to the Orlando shooting and other, similar, attacks.

That this conversation is taking place in Arabic and other media in the Middle East represents an important critique of the western media’s unwillingness often to see the connections or similarities between extremists in both societies.

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