Crime & Justice

Islamophobia surges in Australia after New Zealand mosque attack

Sydney, Australia, Mar 15 (EFE).- Verbal, physical and digital Islamophobic attacks increased in Australia after the white supremacist terror attack carried out on Mar. 15, 2019 in neighboring New Zealand, according to a report published on Tuesday on the third anniversary of the tragedy.

The “Islamophobia in Australia” report, published by the Charles Sturt University and three religious organizations, indicates that after the mass shootings by Australian national Brenton Tarrant at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, in which 51 Muslims died, mosque vandalism increased by four times.

Although more than half of Australian mosques had already experienced acts of vandalism, including graffiti, fires and threats, between 2014 and 2019, the majority of these attacks occurred after the Christchurch massacre.

Online attacks by supporters of Tarrant who justify or glorify his terrorist act and calling for similar attacks increased by 18 times within two weeks of the Christchurch shootings, according to the report, led by Derya Iner in the Charles Sturt University Center for Islamic Studies and Civilization.

“Along with this hyper-violent rhetoric, we saw an escalation in xenophobic language, from telling people to ‘go home’ to expressing supremacist conspiracies such about a ‘demographic invasion by Muslims,'” Iner said in an article published on academic website The Conversation on Tuesday.

The author noted that these types of xenophobic attacks were the most popular form of online hate rhetoric (43 percent) after associating Muslims with terrorism (58 percent).

Attacks against Muslims, especially women and children, come from people from all walks of life, from beggars to academics, and mainly from white men, according to the report.

On the third anniversary of the Christchurch massacre, Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand national coordinator Aliya Danzeisen said Islamophobia is also on the rise in the country.

“We have academics based in New Zealand saying that it’s increasing. We have intelligence and security saying that there’s been an increase, and in November they even issued a warning that there was a possibility of another attack. There is definitely a notable increase from where we were before March 15th three years ago,” Danzeisen told public broadcaster Radio New Zealand.

Tarrant’s attack prompted the New Zealand government to admit to certain shortcomings prior to the Christchurch massacre.

These included New Zealand counter-terror agencies “almost exclusively” concentrating on Islamist extremism without much focus on right-wing terrorism threats.

After the massacre, the government approved reforms to gun laws and pushed for measures to be taken on social media to curb the propagation of hateful material online.

Tarrant, who broadcast the massacre live on social media, was sentenced in August 2020 to life in prison on 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one of committing a terrorist act. EFE


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