by Zafar Bangash (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 48, No. 2, Rajab, 1440)
The horrific murder of 50 Muslim worshippers in two Christchurch masjids on March 15 has evoked global condemnation except for some hardcore Islamophobes and racists. Those slaughtered in cold blood included women and children. Some of the wounded are in critical condition.
The mass murderer, a 28-year-old white supremacist terrorist from Australia, Brenton Tarrant, was arrested shortly after his deadly rampage. He appeared in court on March 16 and is scheduled to reappear on April 5.
Beyond the condemnations and the sympathetic manner in which New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has handled the situation, there are deeply troubling aspects to the alarming rise in Islamophobia. There are a number of factors and individuals that inspired the terrorist’s demonic ideology. These include US President Donald Trump, the Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, the Quebec City terrorist Alexandre Bissonnette, and Serbian mass murderer Radovan Karadic. This emerged both from the names he had written on the semi-automatic weapons he used to murder innocent worshippers as well as the 74-page manifesto he uploaded to the internet.
There is little doubt that he was consumed by intense hatred of Muslims. He not only set out to “cleanse” New Zealand and his native Australia of immigrants and refugees but also to avenge the defeat of Christians at the hands of Muslims (the Turks’ historic battles in Europe) as well as glorify Christian victories over them. In his demonic rage he slaughtered 50 innocent Muslims.
Let us get some facts straight. Muslims constitute less than 1% of New Zealand’s population. But for a man consumed by hatred, even one Muslim is one too many. This racist and bigot conveniently ignored the fact that immigrants, primarily from Britain, populate both New Zealand and Australia. Such details, however, are inconsequential for him and his fellow racist Fraser Anning because the early immigrant settlers are white and their victims are non-white.
There are many dimensions to this latest tragedy. Unfortunately, it won’t be the last. The wars that the Western imperialist regimes are waging against Muslim countries necessitate painting Muslims — all 1.8 billion of them — as evil and violent extremists that must be eliminated. This campaign of vilification, however, came up against the fact that millions of Muslims live quite peacefully in Western societies. The image of Muslims as violent extremists did not fit this description. Thus, they had to be demonized as well. The Zionists were happy to oblige; indeed they are the principal instigators together with evangelical Christians in stoking anti-Muslim hatred.
The corporate-owned media has eagerly amplified anti-Muslim venom spouted by right-wing politicians. Again, the Zionists have been in the forefront of this campaign of demonization. The West’s wars of aggression have resulted in turning millions of people into refugees who are forced to seek shelter elsewhere.
Fascist politicians, right-wing media outlets and the Zionists have all played on the insecurities of people in Western countries to whip up hysteria against Muslims. “Brown Muslims are coming to swamp your land and take your fair ladies turning them into sex slaves” seems to be the constant message.
“They want to impose Shari‘ah law here” is another frequently heard refrain. This is a misnomer; there is no such thing as “Shari‘ah law.” Most politicians and media outlets have no clue what Shari‘ah stands for but it is enough to frighten the ignorant masses and whip up hysteria.
It is, however, Tarrant’s mentors — and also his financiers — who need a closer scrutiny. In his so-called manifesto, Tarrant expresses great admiration for Trump, Bissonnette, and Breivik. The Norwegian terrorist in turn has admitted to being inspired by the arch-Zionist Robert Spencer, a self-proclaimed “expert” on Islam who has not studied the Arabic language, much less the Qur’an, to get a clear grasp of the Muslim holy book. According to the Daily Beast, Zionist operative David Horowitz pays Spencer $167,000 a year for his Islam-bashing services. This is no small beer!
The Southern Poverty Law Center has said Horowitz’s organization specializes in “giving anti-Muslim voices and radical ideologies a platform to project hate and misinformation.”
The Zionist connection runs deeper. Tarrant visited Israel in 2016 and spent some time there. Further, Zionists are the principal promoters and instigators of Islamophobia.
While there is a general perception that Islamophobia intensified in the aftermath of 9/11, this is only partly true. Long before the 9/11 false-flag operation that most informed observers believe were an inside job, Zionists were busy peddling Islamophobia.
The first foreign visitor to the US after Bill Clinton became president in late-1992 was Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The Zionist regime was then facing the first Palestinian intifadah (Rabin had vowed to break the bones of Palestinians!). Since the intifadah drew inspiration from Islamic values, Rabin urged Clinton during his visit in March 1993 to confront what he termed “Islamic terrorism.” The low intensity war on Islam went into high gear.
Clinton needed little prodding. The US had already suffered defeat with the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1978–1979. Hizbullah delivered further blows to both US imperialism and Zionism in Lebanon. Led by the Islamic movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the intifadah eclipsed the secular Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and its corrupt leaders.
Given this context, we can begin to see why the most virulently anti-Muslim voices are those of pro-Israeli Zionist individuals and groups. They have made common cause with white supremacists against Muslims.
In an investigative report in the Guardian (December 7, 2018), the London daily found “The British far-right activist Tommy Robinson is receiving financial, political, and moral support from a broad array of non-British groups and individuals, including US think tanks, right-wing Australians and Russian trolls…” Describing Robinson as “an anti-Islam campaigner” the Guardian names individuals and organizations that fund his anti-Islam activities: Daniel Pipes and his Middle East Forum (MEF) have contributed $60,000 to Robinson, the American “billionaire Robert Shillman financed a fellowship that helped pay for Robinson to be employed in 2017 by a right-wing Canadian media website, Rebel Media, on a salary of about £5,000 [approx. $7,500] a month.” Ezra Levant of Rebel Media lost a lawsuit last year when he was forced to pay $80,000 to Khurram Awan, a law student whom he falsely accused of being an anti-Semite.
A racist anti-Muslim group in Australia, the Australian Liberty Alliance, also admitted to funding Robinson, but refused to disclose the amount when asked by Guardian reporters. Is it far-fetched to surmise that the same Australian group has also funded Tarrant and that he has received funding from well-healed Zionists in the US as well?
Robinson’s other backers include the New York City-based think tank, the Gatestone Institute that has published a series of articles supporting Robinson’s anti-Islamic crusade. The David Horowitz Freedom Center (DHFC), a California-based think tank that describes itself as a “school for political warfare” — yes the same Horowitz who is financing Spencer — is also active in Robinson’s defence.
It gets murkier. MEF, Gatestone, and the DHFC are well funded by influential Zionist donors. In the two-year period (2014–2016), the Guardian found that their returns showed they received a total of almost $5 million from several millionaire donors.
“MEF received $792,000 from a foundation led by Nina Rosenwald, the co-chair of American Securities Management, once dubbed “the sugar mama of anti-Muslim hate.” Rosenwald is a self-described “ardent Zionist” who funds Israeli institutions on a regular basis.
“The DHFC received $1,638,290 from five wealthy benefactors, one of whom is believed to be among the biggest-ever donors to the Republican Party.
“Gatestone has received more than $2m in donations, including $250,000 from the Mercer Family Foundation, which is funded by Donald Trump’s top donor, Robert Mercer, and run by the billionaire’s daughter Rebekah.
“All three think tanks have been repeatedly accused of stoking anti-Islam sentiment in the West and spreading false information about Muslim refugees in Europe…” according to the Guardian investigation.
The Guardian’s piece of last December so alarmed the Times of Israel — yes an Israeli newspaper — that it wrote its own piece on January 24, 2019 authored by Eric Cortellessa decrying, “Why are US ‘pro-Israel’ groups boosting a far-right, anti-Muslim UK extremist?” While Pipes, Horowitz, and others of their ilk peddle their anti-Muslim rhetoric under the rubric of “free speech,” for the Times of Israel, “the support Robinson has received from a web of Israel-backing groups may be about more than just protecting ‘free speech.’ As at least Pipes and Horowitz have made clear, it’s also about advancing his ideas.”
Robinson has more than one million Facebook followers, most of them in Australia, the US, Canada, Sweden, and Norway. It does not take rocket science to figure out that Tarrant is one of them. And he has acted out what Robinson has been peddling: anti-Muslim bigotry and violence.
The role of right-wing media in stoking Islamophobia cannot be ignored either. For instance, the Daily Mirror, a British tabloid carried this headline after Tarrant’s murderous attack on two masjids, “Angelic boy who grew up into an evil far-right mass killer.” A childhood photograph of Tarrant in the arms of his father appeared alongside the headline. Contrast this with the way the same Mirror newspaper reported the Orlando nightclub shooting by one Omar Mateen in June 2016, “ISIS maniac kills 50 in gay bar.” There are reports that Mateen was also gay and had a fight with one of the patrons leading to the shooting and not for political reasons.
Let us also identify some politicians that are actively promoting anti-Muslim hatred. In Canada these include Maxime Bernier of the newly-formed right-wing Peoples Party, Andrew Scheer of the Conservative Party of Canada, and Quebec Premier Francois Legault.
It is not surprising that there have been numerous attacks on masjids in Canada, most notably in Quebec where six worshippers were murdered and 29 injured when Alexandre Bissonnette attacked the Quebec City Masjid on January 29, 2017.
Other cities have not escaped either. For instance, the small town of Peterborough in Ontario was subjected to arson attack in December 2015 while a couple of months ago, members of the racist outfit, Soldiers of Odin, appeared at an Edmonton masjid taking photographs and intimidating Muslims. The provinces of Quebec, Manitoba, and Alberta seem to have the largest number of right-wing fascist groups.
Britain is also a hotbed of anti-Muslim terror with several groups operating freely. On March 18, Britain’s Security Secretary Ben Wallace admitted in parliament that Christchurch type attacks are possible, indeed likely in Britain. Four days later (in the early morning of March 22), five masjids in Birmingham had their windows smashed. Other attacks are likely to follow as racist groups have started intimidating Muslims near their places of work and worship.
It is little better elsewhere in Europe. France seems to be leading the way in anti-Muslim bigotry but it is not the only one. Germany, Sweden, Norway, Hungary, and a host of others are embracing racist ideologues.
In the aftermath of the Christchurch masjid attacks, there have been expressions of sympathy offered by many politicians. What is needed is to take action on two fronts: first, ban the right-wing fascist groups that actively promote hatred, especially against Muslims. Second, declare Islamophobia a hate crime and confront those indulging in it with the full force of the law.
Failing these two steps, all expressions of sympathy and support are meaningless. Muslims will face other murderous attacks with each group and institution hoping that it won’t be them. These are dangerous times for Muslims.