Throughout history, right-wing terrorists inspired and passed relay of hatred to one generation to another. From Peter the Hermit in the first Crusaders to Raymond of Aguilers of the second Crusaders, who by the way expressed his joy of killing Muslims. In our modern time, general Slobodan Praljak and former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, both have been charged to carry out genocide and crimes against humanity in the Bosnian war, in the early 1990s. More recently, the 2011 mass killer Andres Breivik, also inspired, the Al-Noor mosque mass killer Brenton Tarrant, as he admitted in a manifesto he published before the shooting. All these terrorists have two things in common: killing innocent Muslims and inspiring one another.

The evil terrorist Brenton Tarrant who today massacred innocent worshippers in the Al-Noor mosque, Christchurch, New Zealand has told the world who radicalised him to murder innocent people that he never met before. Tarrant, in his words, showered praises on the 2011 Norwegian terrorist, Andres Breivik, who killed 77 innocent people. Tarrant claimed that he “really took true inspiration from Knight Justiciar Breivik”. Also, he claimed he was inspired by Candace Owens, a pro-Trump right-wing commentator, he said: “The person that has influenced me above all was Candace Owens, each time she spoke I was stunned by her insights.” On the other hand, there is evidence that Tarrant was inspired by Crusaders of Europe. The weapons Tarrant used to murder the mosque-goers he had written on the names of other people who had carried out attacks in the past.

•    Vienna 1683, the Battle of Vienna between Christians and the Turks.

•    Feliks Kazimierz Potocki – a Polish military leader who regularly fought against Tatars and Turks.

•    Josué Estébanez – a Spanish murder victim. Acre 1189 – Siege of Acre when King Guy of Jerusalem clashed with Saladin, leader of the Muslims in Syria and Egypt.

•    Iosif Gurko – Russian field marshal during the Russo-Turkish War.

•    Sigismund of Luxembourg – Roman Emporer, King of Hungary, Croatia, Germany, Bohemia and Italy at the turn of 15th century.

•    Sebastiano Venier, a leader in the Battle of Lepanto against the Turks in 1571.

•    Marcantonio Colonna – Admiral of the Papal fleet at the Battle of Lepanto.

•    Khotyn 1621 – a battle in which the Polish held off the Turks.

•    Vac 1684 – fought between the Ottoman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire.

All these names of mass killers and battles were written on Tarrant’s weapons, this shows, Tarrant was inspired by the Crusaders. Crusader Raymond of Aguilers describing his enjoinment of killing Muslims said:

“Wonderful sights were to be seen. Some of our men (and this was more merciful) cut off the heads of their enemies; others tortured them longer by casting them into the flames. Piles of heads, hands and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one’s way over the bodies of men and horses. But, these were small matters compared to what happened at the Temple of Solomon, a place where religious services are normally chanted. In the Temple and Porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins.”

According to August Krey, an American medievalist, in two days, the crusader army massacred some 40,000 Muslims in the most inhumane ways imagined. This is not to blame Christianity as a religion for crimes committed by its followers, or the West in general, but to more broadly illustrate that today’s right-wing terrorist sought inspiration in Crusaders. These terrorists past and present, hide behind the immigration issues, but their real aim is to murder as many innocent people as possible like Tarrant, Breivik and Praljak did. However, it is not only history that inspires these right-wing terrorist, but some present right-wing politicians also provide ammunition for these terrorists, hiding behind the umbrella of immigration and freedom of speech. We are all immigrants some way or the other, even in the places we call home. The rise to power of the likes of Donald Trump has undoubtedly given the far right wing a space to breathe and grow.

When Trump, unequivocally banned Muslims to enter the United States, the powers of the country, the congress and judicial system backed him up, although the majority of the American people went against it. Similarly, the Australian far-right wing politician, Senator Fraser Anning for some peculiar reason blamed Muslim immigrants for today’s terrorist attack on Muslims, he said: “The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.” I might have earlier described the Senator’s remarks as “peculiar”, but he follows a line of victim-blaming oppressor’s. The apartheid regime in South Africa, for instance, used to blame black South Africans for the abuse they received from the regime because they were resisting the abuse, even though, they are the ones who were oppressing the blacks in South Africa. Likewise, Senator Anning wants us to believe that today’s terrorist attack on the Al-Noor mosque is the slaughtered worshippers’ fault because they are the ones who travelled to New Zealand in the first place. No doubt, the remarks of Senator Anning and president Trump are helping the revival of far-right directly and indirectly. President Trump, in 2017, called a neo-Nazi group demonstrating in Charlottesville, Virginia “fine people”—this kind of remark gives the far-right a confidant to take the next step, perhaps violence of a sort. Once they (the far-right) not only get away with racist smears but acquire support from the head of the State, it is inevitable what follows.

The lack of legal ramification from Western governments to curb the Islamophobia rhetoric, which spread like wildfire these days, is one of the reasons why the far-right movements in the West are flourishing. The Western governments are not taking enough measurements to tackle Islamophobia, as the Turkish President Erdogan rightly said the aftermath of Al-Noor Mosque Massacre: “With this attack, hostility towards Islam, that the world has been idly watching and even encouraging for some time, has gone beyond individual harassment to reach the level of mass killing.” Once we ignored the daily Islamophobia in the media and elsewhere, it was inevitable that a massacre in the multitude of today’s was in the cards for some time. When the press continuously portray that all Muslims are somehow to blame for the actions of mindless terrorists like the one who murdered innocent children in Manchester last year, it’s inevitable that Islamophobia will rise. Also, Islamophobia arises when the media differentiate terrorists for their different colour, religion and ideologies, one to be described as an Islamic terrorist (although nothing to do his actions with Islam) and another a mass shooter. Were the deadliest killers in United States history, for example, Muslims—killers like the Las Vegas shooter who slaughtered 59 innocent people and injured more than 500? Or is it the religion of Islam that is to be blamed for nurturing terrorism? Did the Sandy Hook Elementary School butcher scream ‘Allahu Akbar’ before shooting 28 innocent people, mostly children? Did the Sutherland Springs Church shooter wave the Quran before murdering 27 innocent church-goers? Of course, they did not scream ‘Allahu Akbar’, nor did they wave the Quran, and despite their terrorist actions, society, including the media and government agencies, has failed to describe them as terrorists. Instead, they have been called killers, lunatics and mentally ill. Why then are madmen such as Omar Mateen, who killed innocent people at an Orlando nightclub in 2016, associated with Islam, as if Islam inspired their deeds? Is it as society holds the view that if the perpetrator is Muslim, then he must be a terrorist? Why is it important to give some killers preferential treatment? For instance, why is the Las Vegas mass shooter less a terrorist than Mateen? Is it as Mateen was a Muslim, so he ought to be a terrorist, while the Las Vegas killer was an old drunk who had lost it? These stigmas and stereotypes help terrorist groups Muslim and far-right recruit confused, lost youth.

In summary, what can the world as a whole learn from today’s terrorist attack in Christchurch? Many questions arise from today’s terrorist attack: why Tarrant was not in the police’s watch list? Why the police took them to respond 17 minutes, as Tarrant’s video showed that the spree of killing took 17 minutes?  First, the New Zealand government need to address these critical questions, and the world to learn from it. Moreover, if we are honest to tackle terrorism of all its forms, shapes and sizes; and prevent a repeat of Al-Noor Mosque Massacre, we need to introduce a zero tolerance to all kinds of hatred including Islamophobia. Organisations such as the English Defence League should be shut and banned to be a member of like the government banned the terrorist groups such as Al-Muhajiroon. Gun laws should be examined again, especially countries that allow the public to bear arms. If we don’t take swift and robust actions against bigotry, Islamophobia and all forms of hatred, then the next generations of Tarrant and Breivik will be inspired to terrorise us like these madmen did.

Abdiaziz Arab