Christchurch, New Zealand. (Image source: Andrew Cooper/Wikimedia Commons)
The Christchurch massacre -- in which dozens of innocents were slaughtered in cold blood because of their religion, as they were assembled to pray -- was a despicable, indefensible act. The murderer, Brenton Tarrant, is a criminal. The manifesto text he left to justify his act is in no way a justification.
The reactions that followed were marked by legitimate indignation. Unfortunately, the attack was also used to launch a campaign both dangerous and treacherous.
Tarrant, in his manifesto, defined himself as an "eco-fascist" and wrote that he admires British Nazi Oswald Mosley and China's communist regime, and that he rejects conservatism. Even though US President Donald J. Trump condemned the murders, the killer's remarks were used to attack him.
Possibly because Tarrant opposed Muslim immigration to Western countries (mostly, he wrote, because it leads to overpopulation), many of those who expressed concerns about Muslim immigration to the West, or criticized Islamic violence or anti-Semitism, were accused as having been partly or fully responsible for the massacre -- even US President Bill Clinton's daughter, Chelsea Clinton.
By contrast, many Muslims, when extremist violence in the name of Islam takes place, state that they cannot be held "collectively responsible" for the actions of their co-religionists, and that to try to do so is unjust and "Islamophobic." Often, however, it seems as if members of other religions are not held to the same presumption of innocence.
The French author Renaud Camus, for instance, who created the concept of "the great replacement" a decade ago, was presented as having a particularly heavy responsibility for the attack; he was described in the French media as an "accomplice to crime".
Two days before the tribute to the victims and the broadcasting of the call to prayer, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern invited an imam to read some verses from the Koran's Surah al Baqarah before the opening of a parliamentary session. Part of Surah al Baqarah speaks of "those who are killed in the way of Allah" and evokes a "great punishment" for "those who disbelieve". Do New Zealanders really deserve a great punishment because an Australian came to New Zealand and committed a mass murderer?
Instead of blaming the mass-murderer, Ardern incriminated guns; then said that Tarrant's manifesto text should be removed from websites. She encouraged social networks to suppress messages Tarrant left -- an act that could prevent the possibility of deciphering his motives. Ardern added that she would never speak Tarrant's name and asked everyone else to do the same. She also wore an Islamic veil as a sign of compassion and solidarity. And on Friday, March 21, the Islamic call to prayer was broadcast on radio and television throughout the country, with the words "Allahu Akbar" ("Allah is the greatest"), while many New Zealanders observed two minutes of silence.
On March 24, the country's "chief censor," David Shanks, went a step further and ordered all New Zealanders in possession of Tarrant's manifesto text to destroy it. He added that anyone in New Zealand caught with the text on his or her computer could face up to 10 years in prison.
Meanwhile, is it still possible to say that there is a huge difference between expressing concerns about Muslim immigration to the West and carrying out a mass murder? Is it still possible to say that there is an immense difference between questioning Islam and killing Muslims? Or that facts have shown that Muslim immigration to the West can have concerning consequences? Or that Islam may not be a religion of peace? Or that millions of Muslim women in the Muslim world might feel repressed by the obligation to wear a hijab?
Can it still be said that guns do not fire on their own but are instruments that people not only use to commit crimes but also to defend themselves? Or that erasing a murderer's writings and messages, and threatening severely to punish people who have his manifesto on a computer, might be counterproductive?
In all European countries with large Muslim populations, no-go zones have emerged, crime rates have increased and immense problems of integration have arisen. After Sweden opened its doors to a mass-immigration from Muslim countries, it became known as the rape capital of the West.
Erasing a murderer's text, background or the messages he leaves, or even hiding his name, can prevent understanding what might lead to such crimes and a society's ability to prevent similar ones in the future.
Criminalizing people who have a text on their computer makes the possession of information a crime.
Asking non-Muslim women to wear a veil implies overlooking that Islam does not treat women as men's equals. While millions of Muslim women agree to wear a veil -- and some even join the jihad and become soldiers -- others who might wish to stop wearing one can be harshly punished. In Iran, Shaparak Shajarizadeh is reported to have been sentenced to 20 years in jail for removing her headscarf, and "morality police" units have been arresting women who have refused to wear one. Women can be sent to prison or flogged.
In Saudi Arabia, the good news is that in 2018, a few laws were changed to allow women to drive, start a business, attend sporting events and have access to education and healthcare without the permission of a male. The bad news, however, is that the religious police are still strictly monitoring respect for Islamic rules; women are still not allowed to travel, get married or divorced, file a police report, or even leave prison, without the permission of a male guardian. If they try to flee, they risk being arrested or killed. In November, "dozens" of activists involved in the "right to drive" campaign were arrested and are currently on trial. Three have been released on bail; but what about the rest? If women are now allowed to drive, what about releasing all of them? Apple and Google, in their app stores, offer a Saudi Arabian government app that "allows Saudi men to track women under their sponsorship."
Broadcasting a call to Muslim prayer including the words "Allahu Akbar" implies overlooking a pattern of a fundamentalist intolerance for other religions, and that the word Islam means "submission." Although many of the acts by New Zealand's government and media are doubtlessly well-intended, they will be likely interpreted as signals of weakness, tacit submission, and an integral part of the cultural suicide that is gaining ground in all Western societies.
There still seems a widespread refusal in the West to look closely at the problems posed by Muslim mass-immigration; a wish to be willfully blind to what Islam expects and a determination not to acknowledge crimes committed on every continent in the name of jihad. These denials go hand-in-hand with blaming firearms for murder; erasing information to be able to pretend it never existed; instituting even more censorship; asking non-Muslim women to wear a Muslim veil to show solidarity and broadcasting throughout a country a prayer saying "Allahu Akbar".
Accepting more and more of this new culture perhaps to appear good-hearted and welcoming, or perhaps simply for more votes, has been the adopted by the leadership of many countries. It has not, however, been so been readily adopted by the population, and has possibly been the leading factor in creating, as a reaction, the rise of nationalist movements all over Europe.
Every society, of course, has its extremists and psychopaths, but if the West keeps sending signals that the violence and demands of Islam are acceptable in the free world, still more atrocities such as Christchurch massacre, as misguided expressions of extreme public frustration, may occur. One might argue that the other side might also be frustrated that their beliefs are not more widely embraced in their new homes, but no one asked them to come to the West or to bring with them the oppression they were supposedly fleeing. Alex Alexiev, Chairman of the Center for Balkan and Black Sea Studies, wrote:
"If there is one thing to be seriously concerned about in the shooter's murderous ravings, it is not his crackpot ideas, but the fact that his views on immigration are shared by a majority of Europeans — and not only in Eastern Europe, which refuses to take any immigrants."
The real accomplices of Christchurch mass murderer are not those who sounded the alarm about Muslim immigration to the West, but those in the West who embrace this passive submission, weakness and cultural suicide and refuse to see the potential storms ahead.
"The claim that Islam is a religion of peace," the noted British author and commentator Douglas Murray, observed, "is a nicety invented by Western politicians so as either not to offend their Muslim populations or simply lie to themselves that everything might yet turn out fine."
The risk that everything will not turn out "fine" is all too real; it cannot be indefinitely ignored.
Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.