White Supremacist Terrorism on the Rise in the West

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The terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killed at least 50 men, women, and children, and injured a similar number. The shooting spree, motivated by a deep hatred of Islam and the Muslims, was live-streamed on social media by the Australian-born and raised terrorist. While the West has a long history of right-wing violence, incidents of mass murder, homicide, and armed attacks perpetrated by white supremacists have steadily increased in recent years.

The past year witnessed a terrible high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, where a white supremacist killed 17 students. A few months later, another anti-immigrant fanatic went on a shooting spree inside a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, killing 11. In fact, according to a report by the Center of Extremism, extremists killed at least 50 people in the USA during 2018, with 16 of the 17 terrorists involved in these attacks being white supremacists. The exception, a 17-year-old who murdered another teenager, had allegedly “recently switched” from white supremacist to “Islamic” extremism.

According to The Atlantic, the far right “had an almost absolute monopoly on lethal terrorism in the United States” in 2018. Similarly, a Quartz analysis of the Global Terrorism Database shows nearly two-thirds of terror attacks in the USA during 2017 were perpetrated by anti-Muslim and other right-wing extremists. Between 2009 and 2018, right-wing fanatics accounted for 73 percent of all deaths from terrorism in the USA, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Muslims have been a major target of white supremacist terrorists who have called for a revival of “crusades” against Islam. In 2017, a terrorist opened fire inside a mosque in Quebec City, Canada, murdering six worshippers and injuring 19. In Germany, the Munich shooter who murdered nine “Turkish and Arab” origin people, mostly teenagers, in 2016, was also inspired by far-right terrorists. In France, six mosques were attacked in a wave of terrorism against Muslims during 2015.

However, these are only a few among thousands of terrorist attacks targeting Muslims in the West in recent years – from the killing of mosque Imams to the abuse of Muslim women wearing the headscarf. Moreover, violence in the form of mosque shootings, stabbings, ramming vehicles, planting explosives, and even throwing grenades inside Islamic centres and mosques has been routinely inflicted upon the Muslims in recent years.

In the UK, a record 1201 verified reports of Islamophobic attacks were submitted in 2017 alone, an increase of 26 percent from 2016. According to The Guardian, “UK is facing a ‘new wave’ of anti-Muslim hatred” with thousands of Britons being radicalized through right-wing online forums. Official figures from Germany reveal 316 violent xenophobic attacks in 2014, and 612 in 2015, across the country. In Australia, anti-Muslim bigots occupy places in the government, control much of the media, and routinely perpetrate street violence against the Muslims.

A major source of incitement for many white supremacists are the so-called manifestos, such as the one written by the Norwegian terrorist whose car bomb and indiscriminate firing at a youth summer camp killed at least 77, and injured hundreds others, in 2011. Another terrorist propagating white supremacy in his manifesto opened fire inside a church in Charleston, South Carolina, murdering 9 African Americans. Such manifestos talk of a fictitious threat to white “civilization” and call on others to perpetrate attacks against Muslims and the immigrants.

In addition to radical web forums and extremist literature, there are many terrorist organizations in the West such as Alt-right, New Aryan Empire, and Rise Above Movement, some of which have strong political backing. In fact, white supremacist organizations are strongly embedded in the mainstream politics of many Western countries and have played a pivotal role in Trump’s rise to power. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, USA witnessed a nearly 50 percent rise in the number of white “nationalist” groups during 2018. 

The negative role of the Western media in promoting anti-Muslim violence has also become all too obvious. As an example, the six Australian newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch published 2891 negative news pieces against Islam in 2017 alone, representing eight stories per day. In addition, six of the “most controversial commentators in the Australian news media” wrote nearly one-third of their opinion articles against Muslims and Islam, according to TRT World. Murdoch’s media empire includes Fox News and The Sun newspaper that have instigated anti-Muslim activities in the USA and UK respectively. Moreover, a recent study examining 136 attacks over a decade found that those by Muslims received over three times greater media coverage than any other type of attacks.

The Western media is also quick to paint Muslims as terrorists, having invented such terms as “Islamist” and “jihadist” to portray Islam as a religion of violence and promote intolerance of Muslims. As Al-Jazeera reports, “…The word ‘terrorism’ is often ignored in the context of non-Muslim violence and used exclusively in news reports describing Muslim crimes.” This bias exists even in the justice systems in the West. For example, the murder of six people inside a mosque in Quebec City was declared by the Canadian court as “not a terrorist attack”, but simply motivated by “prejudice”.

The West needs to revisit its policy of tolerating or supporting right-wing extremists, and toughen its stance on violence against Muslims. A failure in this regard shall not only further victimize the Muslims and immigrants in the West, but will turn its cities into hotbeds for white supremacist terrorism.

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