19 March 2019

South Africa: Christchurch Mosque Massacre - the Extremist Voice On Social Media Provokes Action Beyond Policy and Location

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(file photo)
analysis

South Africa cannot ignore current trends in terrorism. We are living in an age where extremism, no matter where on the spectrum, seems irreversible, where extremist ideology is metastasising on social media networks as well as chat rooms and where policy paralysis only accelerates hatred and societal divides.

On 14 March 2019, South Africa woke up to the horror of multiple shootings at mosques during Friday Prayers in Hagley Park and Linwood (Christchurch, New Zealand), killing 49 people.

The attack on this peaceful Islamic community was carefully planned. The attack draws parallels with terrorism targeting places of worship, as anti-Islam rhetoric increases across the world.

Early reports indicate the attack was targeting higher numbers of worshippers than the shooting by Robert Bowers at the Tree of Life Congregation (Synagogue) in the Squirrel Hill neighbourhood, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on 27 October 2018. The attacker Robert Bowers' account on Gab is self-described as "Jews are the children of Satan" and its last message was a threat to HIAS (a non-profit organisation that provides humanitarian aid and assistance to refugees):

"HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I'm...

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