Online Islamophobia surged 18-fold in Australia after Christchurch terror attack

Hate is allowed to “fester and grow” in New Zealand, three years after the mosque terror attack, says Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon.

His comments came just hours before a new Australian study found an 18-fold increase in online Islamophobic abuse immediately following the 2019 attack on two Christchurch mosques.

The report’s chief investigator, Dr Derya Iner, said that in the hours following the attack on the Masjids of An Nur and Linwood on March 15, 2019 and in the two weeks since, “the ecosystem that has socialized [the terrorist] has become hyper-visible online.

Hateful rhetoric online rose from threats telling Muslims to “go home” ahead of the Christchurch shootings, to a 28% increase in examples of blatant threats of massacre or civil war, Iner said.

An increase in hatred has also been seen in Aotearoa, said Islamic Women’s Aliya Danzeisen, National Coordinator of the Council of New Zealand (IWCNZ). “We’ve seen an increase here, and we’ve felt it.”

She said people were speaking out louder at a time when legislation was failing to protect vulnerable communities.

Commissioner Foon said the government’s failure to strengthen hate speech legislation had allowed hate to “fester and grow”.

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Iner warned New Zealand and other governments to stop underestimating the impact of online hate, especially after global events copycat after the Christchurch attack.

“Don’t treat online as isolated, cybernetic, hypothetical, only thought talk. It’s real. The people behind the screen are real. They live this ideology.

Of the 247 incidents reported to the Islamophobia Register Australia (IRA) between January 2018 and December 2019 – cited in the study to analyze the period before and after the Christchurch massacre – offline abuse also quadrupled.

Threats to kill Muslims accounted for 25% of online incident reports before March 15, 2019, and that figure rose to 42% after. Overall, threats of massacres or civil war against the Muslim community rose from 25% before to 52% after.

The study prompted the Australian Muslim Advocacy Network to call on its government to strengthen the legislation, after the New South Wales and Federal Governments voted against it.

Among online incidents in the study, after the Christchurch attack, an Australian nurse posted on social media claiming that Muslims were massacring people of other religions, “now they know how it feels [and] I hope this is a wake-up call for them to start acting in a civilized way”.

This struck fear among Muslims in the area where the nurse’s hospital was located, about the care they would receive if they needed treatment.

It was an example of online abuse working “hand in hand” with offline reality.

“Maybe this person lives in the same city, or the same neighborhood.”

Online hate could socialize people to violence in the physical world, and offline violence can trigger more violence online, as seen after the Christchurch attack.

The Masjid Al Noor Mosque on Deans Ave in the aftermath of the 2019 <a class=terrorist attack.” style=”width:100%;display:inline-block”/>

George Heard / Stuff

The Masjid Al Noor Mosque on Deans Ave in the aftermath of the 2019 terrorist attack.

Danzeisen said the study results “are not surprising.”

A lot of people thought the depth of hate was largely virtual, but there was a flow to real life.

“It’s so close to our house. This shows what the terrorist was involved in and where he was and what happened immediately after in certain environments in which he existed.

He pointed out how security and intelligence agencies should have been more aware of what was to come.

As the Council of Islamic Women told the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the attack, it was common knowledge that there was a wide spread of Islamophobia and encouragement of anti-Islamic actions, mainly in line.

Some actions were likely to have breached the Human Rights Act, “but for the fact that the omission of religion had been an issue since the legislation came into effect”.

The group called for an amendment to the law to include religious and ethical beliefs.

“There are several communities that just have to defend themselves instead of having the law represent them,” Danzeisen said.


Mohammed Moustafa and his wife, Nada Tawfeek, talk about extremism and how to eradicate racism after their loved one was killed in the Christchurch terror attacks. (Video first posted April 4, 2019)

Foon said in a statement on Monday that he was “disappointed with the slow response” to implementing what was a recommendation from the Royal Commission following the March 15 terrorist attacks.

He said he had written to all relevant ministers, with mixed responses and only a few replies.

“If, as Commissioner responsible for following these issues, I cannot get an answer, what hope is there for our affected communities? »

There were promises to review hate speech, “but now the government seems to be saying it’s politically too much to handle”.

The commissioner’s comments come after Justice Minister Kris Faafoi said news center over the weekend, there was a need to be careful about hate speech legislation as it could “inflame the very problem we are trying to address”. “We also don’t want to inflame the very problem we’re trying to solve here.”

Danzeisen said the comment was “offensive”, given that the Muslim community had always told them that anti-Islam rhetoric existed long before the March 15 attack and before discussions of hate speech legislation began. begin.

The Christchurch appeal had started to prevent people from seeing future online attacks, but more needed to be done to prevent the attacks themselves, starting with monitoring online activity, she said.

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