New Zealand mosque shooter cites France as inspiration

New Zealand security forces on patrol after the attack on two mosques in Christchurch, 15 March 2019
New Zealand security forces on patrol after the attack on two mosques in Christchurch, 15 March 2019 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 name of a white supremacist theory originating in France that claims that European populations are being displaced by immigrant groups with higher birth rates.

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

But said he had not considered violence until two specific events. The first was the death of 11-year-old Ebba Åkerlund, who was killed, along with four others, by an Uzbek man who claimed allegiance to the Islamic state armed group after driving a lorry into a crowded shopping street Stockholm, Sweden, in April 2017.

The second was the defeat of the "quasinationalist" candidate in the 2017 French presidential election, referring to French far-right leader Marine Le Pen. The defeat instilled “despair” and convinced him that a “democratic solution vanished”.

New Zealand police say three people are in custody in connection with the shooting, 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.

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.

Sébastien Chenu (RN) on New Zealand shootings

“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”.

France taking precautions

French Interior minister, Christophe Castaner, said Friday that France was increasing security at mosques and other places of worship.

He tweeted that he had ordered police prefectures to send out patrols and reinforce surveillance of religious sites "as a precaution."

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