On Friday, a mass shooter stormed two mosques and killed at least 50 people in an unprecedented terrorist attack in New Zealand. The alleged shooter, identified as 28-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant, was charged with one count of murder in a court appearance where he flashed what appears to be a white power sign. Prior to the attack, Tarrant had posted a manifesto online that detailed his hatred for Muslims, claimed inspiration from British fascist Oswald Mosley and Norwegian murderer Anders Breivik, among others, and cited U.S. President Donald Trump as a “renewed symbol of white identity.”
The deadly attack brings into harsh light the global nature of the alarming rise in Islamophobia. In countries around the world, anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies have become dangerously normalized ― in institutions, politics, media, and everyday life. Violent and lethal assaults like the Christchurch shooting are but one consequence; Muslims face daily acts of discrimination, bias and threats.
The world’s Islamophobia problem also has a powerful knock-on effect, enabling broader anti-immigrant and white nationalist coalitions in many countries. And the “soft” anti-Muslim rhetoric of mainstream pundits has given oxygen to more radical extremists, who often advocate violence on social media platforms.
In countries around the world, anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies have become dangerously normalized ― in institutions, politics, media, and everyday life.
While some dismiss incidents like the New Zealand massacre as the deranged act of a lone wolf, a wider look reveals the extent to which world leaders have made space for the far-right movements that drive Islamophobia globally. Not even 24 hours after the attack, for example, Trump denied that white nationalism is a growing danger. And although Trump has emerged as a potent inspiration for Islamophobes, he’s far from alone. In countries around the world, elected leaders and mainstream elites have fueled...