It is a mistake to believe that the terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, which killed 50 Muslims and injured 50 others, were an isolated event. Just before the shootings unfolded, Brenton Tarrant, the perpetrator of the crime, published an 87-page manifesto online, in which he refered to the rise of Islam, and to towns and cities being “shamed” and “ruined” by Muslim migrants. The attacker defended his action as being a reaction to the current Muslim “invasion,” pointing out that the looming threat of Muslim “colonization” made nonviolent activism futile: “There is no democratic solution,” he repeatedly wrote in his manifesto. When examined, these references made by Tarrant are found to be in conformity with the rising anti-Muslim statements at work in the far-right affiliates’ discourse. With that said, the present article is intended to showcase how the far-right parties intentionally fuel the sentiments of hatred through the anti-Muslim rhetoric employed in their discourse, ultimately resulting in hate crimes and terrorist attacks against Muslims in the West.
It is important here to first define what the “far-right” is. According to Britannica Encyclopedia, “Right” is a portion of the political spectrum associated with conservative political thought. The term derives from the seating arrangement of the French revolutionary parliament (c. 1790s) in which the conservative representatives sat to the presiding officer’s right.
The far right (or extreme right) is a political label used to identify parties and movements based on fascist, racist and/or extremely reactionary ideologies. Officially those on the far right embrace the concept of the "inequality of outcome", meaning that one group is naturally better than another. They also tend to embrace inequality of opportunity as well, favoring concepts such as segregation, or mass deportation of non-white people (or in general, people of other races), or sometimes even genocide - although they sometimes keep these abhorrent views hidden, except when trolling anonymously online. The label "far right" can apply to everything from absolute monarchies to Nazism, meaning that many far-rightists oppose others on the far-right who have a different idea of what the ruling class should be.
The atrocity of Christchurch has brought the world’s attention to the rise of far-right extremism, but it was by no means a first-of-a-kind incident. Across Western countries, anti-Muslim hate crimes and violent attacks motivated by the far-right politicians’ rhetoric had already been on the increase. Earlier this year, the Anti-Defamation League reported that 2018 was the worst year for far-right killings in the United States since 1995, when Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people in Oklahoma City. In Britain, the government considers far-right extremism to be an increasing threat and recently for the first time proscribed a right-wing extremist group as “terrorist.” Germany’s domestic intelligence service has observed a steady rise in the number of “potentially violent right-wing extremists,” with current estimates at 13,000.
As far as politics is concerned, the process of polarization in most Western countries has created widespread concerns. This narrative of fear has revolved around the effects of migration, especially from Muslim-majority countries, which populist politicians have presented as an existential threat to Western identity and “our way of life." The rhetoric around the rise of the Islamic State and its terrorist campaigns in cities such as Paris, Brussels and London have not just confirmed these fears but given them a sense of greater urgency and immediacy, fueling violent responses.
The New Zealand attack shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The power of the far right has grown more considerable than ever. Policymakers in all Western countries need to take it seriously because its violence not only threatens lives, but also undermines the very pluralism and freedom within the Western societies. The first step is to admit that there is a problem. After all, we will never be able to deal with
this threat unless we identify it properly.