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Christchurch attacks: We must fight the global Islamophobia industry

Racist ideologues around the world have manufactured a false image of Muslims that must be challenged
Muslims hold a vigil in Melbourne for the Christchurch victims on 22 March (AFP)

The city of Christchurch, New Zealand, has shifted from the southern edge of the globe to the centre, becoming the focus of headlines around the world in the wake of this month’s horrific attacks at two mosques.

The Australian terrorist who perpetrated the attacks on 15 March was motivated by an ideology propagated by racist ideologues not just in his home country, but in Europe and North America, including by US President Donald Trump.

Blaming the victims

At the same time, victim-blaming has occurred in the days following the attacks, with Australian Senator Fraser Anning faulting Muslim immigration, and Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini offering a tone-deaf response on social media.

The world has to respond to the global concern of white supremacist terrorism more seriously

These and other signs suggest that the number of those who are indifferent to, or actively support, anti-Muslim attacks might be higher than anticipated. 

The Christchurch attacks embody an issue of global concern. In recent years, attacks on mosques - ranging from Islamophobic graffiti to arson - have been a recurring problem in the West. 

Globalised crime

The Christchurch terrorist, however, went further, aiming to exact a massive death toll while broadcasting the carnage via livestream, available for the whole world to watch.

It placed viewers in the attacker’s shoes as he prepared his assault rifle to enter al-Noor mosque to the sound of war-glorifying music. 

None of the faces of the “invaders,” as he described the worshippers in the mosque, were identifiable as they fell. Bullet after bullet pierced the worshippers as they prayed.

After emptying his gun, the terrorist returned to his car to find an injured woman laying on the street, calling for help. He approached and shot her again.

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In a matter of hours, this video reached millions of people around the world, making this act of terror in New Zealand a globalised crime.

International responsibility

Although this massacre took place in Christchurch, its prelude developed elsewhere. The world has to respond to the global concern of white supremacist terrorism more seriously; this is not only the duty of New Zealand’s prime minister. 

The deep-rooted issues of hate and Islamophobia leading to this attack must be examined, and the politicians and media platforms promulgating hate speech and anti-Islamic ideology must be held accountable. 

The Islamophobia industry globally manufactures an image of Muslims that needs to be fought – an image that the Christchurch attacker carried in his mind before pulling the trigger.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Hossam Shaker
Hossam Shaker is a journalist and an author who has extensively covered the topic of migration in Europe.