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Mar 15, 2019 | Europe

New Zealand Mosque Shooter Reveals His Motivations

Martin Hunte/Reuters/SNPAHunte
Martin Hunte/Reuters/SNPAHunte

The Australian man who claims to be involved in the shooting attacks on two mosques in New Zealand that left at least 49 people dead published a manifesto on Twitter. The document laid out the motivations of Brenton Tarrant, who claims he wanted to attack Muslims to “create an atmosphere of fear”. Tarrant said he had visited France in the spring of 2017, and in the manifesto wrote about what he saw as the “invasion” of immigrants.

The title of the 73-page document, “The Great Replacement”, is the same as a conspiracy theory originating in France that says European populations are being displaced by immigrant groups with higher birth rates.

In it, the Tarrant identifies himself as “a regular white man, from a regular family, who decided to take a stand to ensure a future for my people”.

He writes about needing to secure a future for white children but had not considered violence until the spring of 2017. He cites two incidents in his radicalisation: the Stockholm truck attack, and the defeat of the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the presidential election.

The election instilled “despair” and convinced him that a “democratic solution vanished”.

He said a trip to Europe, including France, in 2017 revealed that what he had heard about the “invasion” of France by non-white immigrants were “profoundly understated”.

French far-right response

Sebastien Chenu, spokesperson of Le Pen's National Rally , firmly condemned the attacks. When asked on French television about the manifesto's reference to the thesis that white Europeans are being replaced by migrants, he said it was important to distinguish between the terror attack and his party's fight against immigration.

“The fact that France has been sort of submerged by migration over the last few years is another debate," he said. "Thankfully we can still hold a debate on immigration without it leading to 'maniacs' taking up weapons to kill immigrants.”

The government's “pro-immigrant policy”, he said, “puts us, and puts immigrants, people who come to France, in a situation of permanent conflict, of economic and social difficulty”.

New Zealand police say three people are in custody, and one man in his late 20s has been charged with murder and will appear in court on Saturday. They have not confirmed that Tarrant is one of the men in custody.

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