Editorial – Violence that targets minorities is nothing new and Ireland isn’t immune to it

A carpet of flowers laid by members of the public in Christchurst after a far-right terrorist attack left 51 people dead.

Yesterday, 15 March, marked the first anniversary of the attacks on two Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which left 51 people dead and 49 injured. The shooter, 28 year old Brenton Tarrant, is a white supremacist far-right terrorist, who subscribed to the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory. In fact, his own lengthy manifesto was entitled “The Great Replacement”. 

In it he detailed his intentions to “create an atmosphere of fear” and to “incite violence”, particularly against Muslims. He claims he was inspired by and even had contact with Norwegian far-right mass shooter Anders Breivik.

One attack after another

But Since the Christchurch attacks we have seen several similar xenophobic hate crimes. 

On 27 April 2019, 19-year-old John Earnest attacked the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, California on the last day of Passover. One woman was killed, and a further three, including the rabbi, were injured. His manifesto identifies him as a white supremacist who was inspired by the Christchurch terrorist.

On 3 August 2019, 21-year -ld Patric Crusius carried out a mass shooting in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Twenty people died and 26 were injured. According to his white supremacist manifesto, this was an attack aimed at the Hispanic community.

On 10 August 2019, 21-year-old far-right terrorist Philip Manshaus attacked Al-Noor Islamic Centre in the town of Bærum just outside of Oslo, Norway. One woman was injured in the attack. Immediately before the attack he had murdered his step-sister Johanne Zhangjia Ihle-Hansen, who had been adopted from China. He says he was inspired by both Tarrant and Crusius. Manshaus later repeatedly gave the Nazi salute in court.

On 9 October 2019, the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, 27-year-old Stephan Balliet tried to enter the synagogue in Halle, Germany, during prayer. Failing to enter he fired numerous shots at the door before shooting and killing a woman passing by and a young man by firing shots at a nearby kebab shop. He later shot and injured two more people while trying to flee. His manifesto is, like the others, full of white supremacist and anti-Semitic tropes.

On 19 February this year, 43-year-old Tobias Rathjen attacked two shisha bars in Hanau, Germany. In the attack he killed 9 People of Colour and injured 5. He later killed his mother and himself in his apartment. His manifesto is yet another collection of far-right talking points like the great replacement and white supremacy.

An online movement

These attacks illustrate just how dangerous far-right ideologies are and the devastating results they can have. They also illustrate that these same talking points are being spread and weaponised by white, male terrorists all over the western world. They are networked and utilise the Internet to spread their message through their manifestos and/or by lives-treaming their attacks. 

Ireland thankfully hasn’t seen this kind of extreme escalation yet. But we have seen proposed direct provision centres suffer arson attacks and threats have been made online to continue this trend. And it’s only a matter of time until things escalate further. 

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons – Natecull