March 25, 2019 Special Dispatch No. 7959

Reactions In Arab World To New Zealand Mosque Massacre: Accusations Of Islamophobia, Terrorism Against West, U.S., Alongside Calls For Joint Fight Against Extremism

March 25, 2019
Special Dispatch No. 7959

The March 15, 2019 massacre perpetrated by Australian white supremacist Brenton Tarrant in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which 50 Muslim worshippers died and dozens more were wounded, evoked harsh reactions in the Arab and Muslim world. Arab and Muslim leaders stressed the responsibility of the West and the international community to protect Muslims against terror and to fight the radical right and the racism and Islamophobia it is spreading. Islamic organizations called to promote legislation criminalizing incitement against Muslims, similar to the laws against antisemitism that exist in some countries.

The Arab press published numerous articles condemning the massacre and identifying the rise of the radical right and of anti-Muslim sentiment as the direct cause of the attack, and calling to restrain these political elements before it is too late. Some articles accused U.S. President Donald Trump himself of encouraging Islamophobia and the elements that spread it. Other journalists, as well as Hizbullah spokesmen and Syrian and Jordanian officials, accused the West and especially the U.S. of fomenting hatred against Muslims and of being behind all the terror in the world, including attacks perpetrated in the name of Islam. They repeated conspiracy theories according to which the West created the Islamic terror organizations like ISIS with the aim of blackening the Muslims' image, thereby also triggering terror against Muslims.

Conversely, other writers called to refrain from holding the entire West responsible for the massacre, stressing that terror exists everywhere and that all the nations of the world must fight it together.

This report reviews the reactions in the Arab world, and in particular in the Arab press, to the New Zealand shootings. 

The Massacre Is The Outcome Of Rising Islamophobia In The West, Spread By The Radical Right Headed By Trump

Many writers blamed the massacre on the radical right in the West, which has been gaining strength in recent years, and which, they said, is spreading racist hatred against Muslims. Some also described Trump as a leader of the radical right. They called to combat this extremist discourse before it triggers further massacres and perhaps even a war of civilizations and a climate similar to the one that led to the rise of the Nazis in Germany and the outbreak of World War II.

Senior Egyptian Journalist: The Rise Of The Radical Right In The West Is The Reason For The Massacre    

Senior Egyptian journalist Mursi 'Atallah, the former board chairman of the government daily Al-Ahram, wrote in an article he published in the daily: "That stupid lunatic who opened fire indiscriminately inside a mosque, while muttering loathsome words expressing his concern for the Europeans and the white race in the face of the influx of Muslim migrants, is not the only one responsible for this appalling massacre. Equally to blame, and perhaps even more to blame, are all the groups and movements that have raised their voices in Western capitals in the recent years, [uttering] calls of racism, exclusion and hatred. They are the ones who caused this lunatic to plot his crime, step by step, in a plan whose details were carefully crafted, including the decision to carry it out on a Friday, when the mosques would be fuller than on any other day...

"As long as the people of the so-called free world do not wake up and take firm action to stop the hatred in the media and the racism against foreigners and especially against Muslims, which is encouraged by certain official circles in the U.S., Europe and Australia, the world will face the danger of destructive wars between civilizations and a regression to the cultures of the jahiliyya [i.e., pre-Islamic era]."[1]

The "radical right" creates the demon of "Islamophobia" (, Al-Sharq Al-AwsatLondon, March 16, 2019)

Senior Journalist 'Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan: Trump Is The Ideologue And Spiritual Father Of The Murderous Exclusion

'Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan, owner of the e-daily Rai Al-Yawm, pointed to Islamophobia as the direct cause of the attack and named Trump as the "spiritual father" of the radical right. He wrote: "The phenomenon of Islamophobia, or hatred of Muslims, in Europe and the West is nothing new. The new development is that it is taking the form of armed terror and is shifting from statements, incitement and the desecration of cemeteries to [actual] attacks... That racist [Tarrant] set out his terrorist ideology in a 73-page treatise, in which he explained that he would carry out the murderous attack to defend the white race and avenge the victims of Muslim attacks in Europe, and also because of his hatred for migrants...

"The interesting fact is that the role models for this criminal terrorist are U.S. President Donald Trump and the gang of inciters in the media who spread his disgusting racism inside and outside the U.S...

"Western governments realize the threat posed by these racist organizations to the security and stability of their countries... But the [real] threat lies in the ideological parties and movements that cultivate [these organizations] and in the potential repercussions of their actions, which are perceived as [requiring] retaliation and blood vengeance and are clear acts of defiance against the governments. President Trump is the spiritual father of this murderous idea of exclusion, [for] he provides it with official support and backing, not only by banning the citizens of seven Muslim countries from entering the U.S. but also by insolently refusing to identify the perpetrator of the New Zealand massacre as a terrorist and by extending [only] feeble condolences to the victims' families...

"The Western governments committed a grave crime when they downplayed the phenomenon of Islamophobia and refrained from taking the necessary legal measures to confront it, as they did in the case of antisemitism... The New Zealand massacre may be the first [large-scale attack], considering the great number of victims and the depth of its perpetrator's racist hatred, but it certainly will not be the last, considering that there are Western leaders who do not shy away from expressing every kind of hatred for Muslims, chief of them the leader named Trump..."[2] 

"Inciting leaders and media persons" are "party to the crime" of "racism" (, March 17, 2019)

Saudi Journalist: The Rise Of The Radical Right May Recreate The Climate That Preceded World War II

Saudi Journalist Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh expressed concern that the New Zealand shootings and the rise of the radical right in the world might create a climate similar to the one that led to the rise of the Nazis and to World War II.  He wrote: "The terrorist crime in New Zealand is a grave turning point... that can impact global security and stability. The behavior of the murderer who perpetrated this criminal, abhorrent and terrifying act in cold blood exposes the threat posed by the racist and blood-shedding radical right. This may herald grave global developments, similar to those that preceded World War II and led to the rise of the radical right in the form of the Nazi movement in Germany. These developments eventually led to the outbreak of World War II..."[3]  

The West, U.S. Are Behind All Terror, Including Islamic Terror

Some elements in the Arab world, including Hizbullah and the Syrian regime, as well as Jordanian officials and writers, took a harsher line, accusing the West, and in particular the U.S., of being behind "every form and type" of terror in the world. Some even claimed that the U.S. had created the Islamic terror organizations, such as ISIS, with the aim of inciting the world against the Muslims, and are thus also responsible for terror against Muslims, like the New Zealand massacre.

Hizbullah: The New Zealand Massacre Is A Result Of U.S. Policy; The U.S. Is The Source Of All Terror Worldwide

'Ali Da'moush, deputy head of Hizbullah's executive council, said in a Friday sermon: "The U.S. and the West had a hand in depicting Islam to their peoples and to the world as a religion bereft of morals, compassion or humanity. [They accomplished this] by means of the takfiri [Islamic] terror groups that they themselves created in order to mobilize their peoples against Islam and the Muslims. They filled their [peoples'] hearts with resentment and hatred towards Muslims, and then some Westerners revealed their true faces when they committed horrific massacres against Muslims, like the one in the New Zealand mosques. Crimes such as this expose the extent of the hatred that has built up among some Westerners against Islam and the Muslims due to the incitement of the Western media and politicians against them. What encourages them to murder and massacre Muslims and worshippers in cold blood is the massacres perpetrated by the American-Saudi coalition in Yemen against the innocent Yemeni people... The cause of everything that has happened and is still happening in our region and the world is the U.S. administration, its oppressive policy and its plans in the region. The U.S. is the cause of all the tragedies, and it is behind all the terrorism in the world..."[4]

MP Ibrahim Al-Moussawi, a member of Hizbullah's faction in the Lebanese parliament, said in a similar vein: "The despicable and heinous crime [perpetrated] against the Muslims of New Zealand is a clear expression and a result of the Western governments' growing campaign of Islamophobia against innocent Muslims... After what happened in Syria, it is clear to everyone that some official circles in the West create terror and are party to its heinous crimes."[5] Hizbullah Deputy Secretary-General Na'im Qassem said: "The New Zealand crime is a version of Trump's ideas. Even the murderer [himself] regards Trump as a guide and a teacher... Trump is currently the [most blatant] example of oppression, domination and threat to humanity."[6]

Assad Advisor: The Terror In New Zealand Is An Outcome Of Western Incitement; The Islamic Terror Organizations Are A Western Creation

 Buthaina Sha'ban, a senior media and political advisor to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, likewise accused the West of creating all terror organizations. She wrote in the pro-regime Al-Watan daily: "The West, in particular after 2001, began using these terrorist methods, created by its intelligence apparatuses, in order to accuse Islam and the Muslims of terror and take oppressive measures against Muslims who believe in peace and coexistence... The aim of the widespread Western incitement against Muslims was to tarnish their image in the eyes of the Westerners, cause [people] to fear them and strengthen the racist sentiment [against them] and the movements that attack them... Given this climate, which was created and fostered by the Western media for years, a horrific terrorist crime like the one that occurred in New Zealand comes as no surprise at all... The condemnations of the crime issued by most Western governments are clearly hypocritical, for the racism and hostility towards Muslims were generated by their [own] media, who spewed resentment and hate towards Muslims based on a carefully-crafted plan that they are working to implement in various countries... What do they expect to reap, and what do they expect the world to reap, when they plant such immense hatred, racism and discrimination [that distinguishes] between the West and the rest of the world?... Are they not yet convinced that we are [all] living in the same world, and that undermining security in one part of it will surely lead, sooner or later, to the undermining of security in another part?..."[7]

The "discourse of hate" is targeting Islam (Makkah, Saudi Arabia, March 16, 2019)

Syrian Writers: U.S., Europe Responsible For Spread Of Terror In The World

'Ali Qassem, editor of the Syrian government daily Al-Thawra, wrote: "The atrocity committed in New Zealand by a member of the radical right, as Western discourse [calls him], is part of the incitement and hatred consolidated by the conduct of [certain] Western [elements], which peaked with the rise to power of U.S. President Trump, who represents the epitome of hatred in his speeches, positions and conduct, and in the symbolism of his very presence in the White House. The issue here is not [the character of] a private citizen or the conduct of a single man, as Western discourse claims, nor [are we speaking about] a social minority, but about a movement that represents a growing and rising wave..."[8] 

Al-Thawra columnist Nasser Mundhir wrote: "The U.S. and the European countries, which exported terrorism to Syria and are using it to further their colonialist ambitions, are fully responsible for spreading terrorism of every type and form. This is because [terror] has always been a central component of their policy of interference in the affairs of the countries that oppose them. The latest terror attack in the two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, may be the best evidence of the seeds of racism, hatred and extremism that the Western governments have sown without considering that it may boomerang against them..."[9]

Jordanian MP: The Real ISIS Lurks In The Minds Of The American And Western Leaders; The Attacks Of Muslim Terrorists Were Masterminded By The West

Jordanian MP Tareq Khouri wrote on his Facebook page in response to the Christchurch shootings: "The Australian criminal who dared murder innocent, peaceful people in a mosque constitutes resounding proof that the real ISIS lurks in the minds of the leaders of the U.S., the Zionist entity and the Western colonialist powers, and [in the minds of] their Arab supporters, who agreed to serve as cheap tools in the hands of this gang that controls the world with iron and fire and follows the laws of the jungle in pillaging the peoples' resources. The heinous crime [that was committed] today is not unrelated to all the [other] crimes committed by extremists and terrorists in the name of religion... all over the world.  Sadly, the greatest loss has been suffered by Islam, in whose pure name crimes were committed in various places – [crimes] that were planned and funded, [and whose perpetrators were] recruited and trained by the U.S... All the American leaders, past and present, are the ones who created the mentality and culture of ISIS in order to keep the peoples of the world in a state of tension so as to pursue their plan of robbing, usurping and taking over the world."[10]

Jordanian Columnist: The West Is The Source Of Terrorism; Islam Has No Connection To Terrorism

Khaled Al-Zubaidi, a columnist for the Jordanian daily Al-Dustour, wrote: "The Arab world must reexamine the terrorist image that has been imposed on it, for Islam has never been the source of terrorism, and the media must therefore refrain from any approach that attributes terrorism to Muslim extremists. All the ISIS commanders have borne names that have nothing to do with the Muslims or with Islamic history and heritage. It appears that some of us have fallen for the Western ruse of ascribing terror to the tolerant religion of Islam, which protects human life regardless of color, race or faith. Modern and ancient history proves that the West has been the source of this terrorism for centuries. Western ambitions have led to barbaric wars that harmed the Muslim nation. After World War II, the U.S. gradually assumed the role [of harming the Muslims], and it continues to carry it out, in criminal ways.  It has usurped natural resources, sabotaged development and sent its army and navy to [invade] Muslim countries. America's terrorism was exposed in the establishment of the ISIS terror organization. It is [America] that associated [this organization] with Islam. Lately, thousands of ISIS members have surrendered, most of them from outside the region. They are [nothing but] criminal mercenaries, even if they grew beards and shaved their mustaches [to look like devout Muslim]."[11]  

Terror Has No Religion; The Muslims And The West Must Combat It Together

Conversely, other writers called to refrain from blaming the entire West for the New Zealand shootings, since terror is perpetrated by both Muslims and Westerners and harms everyone.  Some of them urged both sides to fight the extremists in their midst and to join forces in combating the discourse of hatred and racism – by passing laws against Islamophobia and through a campaign against racism waged in schools, in the traditional and social media, in mosques and elsewhere.

Jordanian Mufti: Terror Hurts All Of Mankind; We Must Not Blame The Entire West For The Attack

Hassan Abu 'Arqoub, a member of Jordan's General Fatwa Department, called in an Al-Dustour article to refrain from blaming the entire West for the New Zealand massacre: "A new page in [the annals of] terror has been written in New Zealand... [a page] that proves that terrorism has no religion and no sect but is the enemy of mankind as a whole... Terrorism is heinous and unacceptable, whether the bombing or murder takes place in a mosque, a church or any [other] house of worship... We must be fair and refrain from blaming the entire West or the non-Muslim people of New Zealand, for this cowardly action [was committed] by a single man and represents only its perpetrator."[12]

Egyptian Writer: The Muslims And West Should Eliminate The Extremists In Their Midst

Egyptian journalist Muhammad Sultan made similar statements in his column in the Al-Misriyyoun daily: "In the heat of emotion [following the attack], some people demanded that the 'cruel' continent of Europe admit all the crimes it has committed against the Muslim East and apologize for invading it taking it over. This demand may trigger a counter-demand for the Muslims to apologize for what they did during their conquests [in the 7th-9th centuries], during which they took over the world, settled in it, and changed its language, religion and identity! These are [all] absurd demands… Neither the West nor the Muslims will apologize. After all, the current generations are not responsible for the actions of their ancient forefathers… [We] have no choice but to acknowledge that the discourse that foments hatred for [either] the Muslims or the West is cause for alarm…

"The Muslims must reconsider their hostile position towards the West and bring to the forefront of the Muslim arena a modern elite that can manufacture a convincing enterprise of coexistence with the world. At the same time, the West must get rid of the bad political elite that currently controls it, all [members] of which come from the radical right that hates the other and the migrants, [a trend] that peaked with the election of the radical right wing Trump as the ruler of world's most powerful country. The West needs leaders and a civil society that is less stupid and more humane and sensitive to the suffering of the other."[13]

Terror threatens the entire world (Al-Bayan, UAE, March 17, 2019)

Saudi Writer: The Muslims And The West Must Purge Their Societies Of Extremism And Promote Anti-Islamophobia Legislation In The West

Saudi journalist Hussein Shobakshi wrote in his column in the London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that terror exists in the West just as it exists in the Muslim world, and therefore the world must draw lessons, promote legislation against Islamophobia, and work to prevent such attacks from recurring: "A new terror attack has been perpetrated in the world, this time in one of the most peaceful places on earth, New Zealand. The victims are Muslims who were praying in their mosques, and the suspect is a terrorist from the fundamentalist radical right. This is not the first terror attack against Muslims, nor is it the first terror attack of the radical right. It is [therefore] time that the world adopt a genuine and serious policy to confront the threat posed by the terrorism of the fundamentalist radical right, rather than regard it as 'attacks by individuals and fringe groups'…

"The Muslims mustn't start drawing comparisons between 'your' terrorism and 'our' terrorism. That is a misguided direction. They must act to purge their societies of racist ideas that generate abhorrent discrimination… such as [the notion of] takfir [accusing fellow Muslims of heresy] or loathing towards other religions. There is no need to remind anyone that dozens of terrorists from ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Hizbullah have perpetrated attacks against worshipers in mosques, from Jahayman [Al-'Otaybi], who perpetrated a crime in the Mecca Haram [in 1979], to the massacres in mosques in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, not to mention the terror against churches in the Middle East.   

"What is needed [right now] is legislative measures. Instead of whining uselessly about discrimination, we should seize the day and act vis-à-vis the authorities to criminalize Islamophobia, just as the Jews did with regards to the crime of antisemitism. The New Zealand operation was a blatant act of terrorism, from an ideological and legal perspective. It behooves the entire world to take diligent action to draw lessons from what has happened and keep it from happening again. This is an opportunity [we should seize]…"[14]

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Editor: Condemning Terror Is Not Enough; We Must Join Forces To Fight Extremism

Ghassan Charbel, editor-in-chief of Al-Sharq al-Awsat, called on the Muslims and the West to join forces in the daily fight against terror and extremism, that must be waged in schools, religious pulpits and the media. He wrote: "It is no secret that the large waves of migration that the world has seen in recent years, and which coincided with terror attacks by Al-Qaeda and later by ISIS, sparked deep apprehension among [members of] the radical right in some [Western] countries… The practical manifestation of this apprehension was the rise of the radical right and of racist tendencies in some places… The radical right went very far in warning against the identity and customs [of the migrants]…

"In the beginning of the [current] century, Al-Qaeda took the fight to the U.S. itself by perpetrating the 9/11 attacks. Images of the victims and the destruction flooded television screens across the globe. The reaction to the attack – [namely the wars] in Afghanistan and later in Iraq – contributed to the tense atmosphere that fanned people's emotions and helped the extremists to intensify the polarization. The advent of ISIS was a grave development in this context. The world watched as the blades of ISIS members beheaded people for no reason, just for being different. [The world] also saw ISIS terrorize cities and countries with its sleeper cells or lone wolf attackers and call for a return to the [darkest periods] of history.

"On the morning after the massacre in the two mosques [in Christchurch], the world came together to condemn the murderous terrorist, his ideology and his justifications. The world understood the danger that lies in resorting to actions that increase the friction between races, cultures and religions. But condemnations and punitive measures against the perpetrators [of terror] are not enough. We need a broad, daily campaign to save the values of coexistence and tolerance. The world's only way out of the quagmires of racism and extremism is to wage a daily war in schools, universities, religious pulpits and political and social platforms, so as to keep the extremists from taking them over and spreading waves of extremism and hate. The media must act responsibly and prevent itself from becoming a source of hate… We must confront the sources of hatred at home, at work, in books, on Twitter, on Facebook and everywhere else. Unless we clearly accept the right of the other to be different, we can expect further waves of hate."[15]

The world fights the "extremists" instead of the "platform of hatred" that spread extremism (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, March 17, 2019)


[1] Al-Ahram (Egypt), March 17, 2019.

[2], March 16, 2019.

[3] Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), March 17, 2019.

[4], March 16, 2019.

[5], March 16, 2019.

[6], March 17, 2019.

[7] Al-Watan (Syria), March 18, 2019.

[8] Al-Thawra (Syria), March 17, 2019.

[9] Al-Thawra (Syria), March 17, 2019.

[10], March 15, 2019.

[11] Al-Dustour (Jordan), March 17, 2019.

[12] Al-Dustour (Jordan), March 17, 2019.

[13] Al-Misriyyoun (Egypt), March 17, 2019.

[14] Al-Sharq al-Awsat (London), March 17, 2019.

[15] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), March 18, 2019.

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