This article was published in Ahval News on March 23, 2019.
Christchurch massacre tainted by strong anti-Turkish feelings
The mass killing that took place in Christchurch, New Zealand last week caught many by surprise, because of the country’s reputation of being a calm and peaceful place. People from many countries have moved to New Zealand to spend their lives in this beautiful corner of the world.
The only suspect identified so far for this abominable attack is Brenton Tarrant, who introduces himself as an “ordinary man of 28 years old, an Australian citizen of Scottish, Irish and English stock”. He gunned down 50 innocent Muslim worshippers in two mosques in Christchurch.
Anti-Turkish feelings are clearly visible in several aspects of the killing – several words and names written on his gun have anti-Turkish connotations. One of them, Milosh Obilich, is the name of the Serbian soldier who killed the Ottoman Sultan Murad I in the Kosovo War of 1389. There were also the names of the Serbian Prince Lazar Hrebeljanovic, who fought against Turks in the same Battle of Kosovo and Janos Hunyadi, the Hungarian commander who fought the Ottoman armies several times in the Balkans between 1444 and 1456. Another name, Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg, was the Austrian commander who defeated the Ottoman army that besieged Vienna in 1683.
A 17-minute video recorded by the murderer begins with his self-introduction, accompanied in the background, by the Serbian song titled “Karadzic, Lead Your Serbs”, referring to Radovan Karadzic, known as the Butcher of Bosnia, who was convicted of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in 2016.
This ethno-nationalist song was circulated in 1995, during the civil war in Yugoslavia. Its lyrics go: “The wolves are coming, Ustashi and Turks”. Ustashi is the name of the Croatian terrorist organisation that killed hundreds of thousands Serbs between 1929 and 1945. And Turks refer, in this context, to the Bosnian Muslims.
Tarrant then threatens to kill all Turks on the European continent, saying: “We are coming for Constantinople and we will destroy every mosque and minaret in the city. The Hagia Sophia will be free of minarets and Constantinople will be rightfully Christian-owned once more”.
Shortly before the attack, Tarrant posted a 74-page manifesto titled “Great Replacement”, where his anti-Turkish rhetoric is more explicit. He borrowed the title of the manifesto from a book by French author Renaud Camus published in 2012.
In the book, Camus talks about what he sees as the threat that the white Christian European population, and more specifically white Catholic French population, is exposed to by immigration from north Africa, the Middle East and sub-Saharan countries.
There are several other white supremacist movements in Europe, such as ‘Les Identitaires (the Identitarians)’ in France and Gates of Vienna, a loosely linked gathering of authors, bloggers and think-tanks. The name of the latter points to the two Ottoman sieges of Vienna in 1529 and 1683.
Tarrant also had harsh words in his manifesto for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, calling him “one of the oldest enemies of our people and the leader of the biggest Islamic group in Europe. This commander has to bleed to death while he would be visiting his ethnic soldiers that occupy Europe. His death will separate the ethnic Europeans from Turkish occupiers of our lands. It will also reduce Turkey’s strength in the region, will eliminate one of Russia’s enemies and will destabilise and divide NATO”.
The New Zealand authorities, on the other hand, did everything they could possibly to calm any tension between the religions that may raise after the massacre with extraordinarily sincere efforts.
Tarrant considers the Turkish population living in the Balkans for more than 600 years occupiers, but ignores the fact that his ancestors settled in Australia within the last 200 years.
The day of the killing was a Friday. Tarrant may have chosen the day with a view to killing more people, because there is a bigger congregation who attend Friday prayers. On the other hand, the day of the incident was also the 104th anniversary of the withdrawal of allied forces from the Gallipoli peninsula. Australian and New Zealand troops played an important role. But probably, this was a simple coincidence.
The Christchurch killing is a regrettable incident and a strong sign that inter-confessional tension is steadily growing in the world.