27 August 2020
New Zealand Terrorist Life Sentence: We All Have a Lot More to Do
A New Zealand judge has sentenced the Islamophobic terrorist Brenton Tarrant to life in prison without parole, the first person in New Zealand to ever receive this sentence.
Commenting following the sentencing, Hassan Joudi, Deputy Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said:
“This week we have heard moving testimonies from victim’s families and survivors of last year’s terrorist attack. From Aden Diriye, father of 3-year old Mucaad Ibrahim, the youngest victim to die, to Sara Qasem, who lost her father Abdelfattah Qasem, to British national and survivor Nathan Smith who was praying in the mosque at the time of the attack.
“The leadership that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has shown in dealing with this crisis, is in stark contrast to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leadership in dealing with Islamophobia. Rather than tackling the issue seriously, his party continues to drag its heels on an independent inquiry into Islamophobia within its ranks, or apologise for fanning the flames of Islamophobic sentiment himself, such as for making remarks that saw Islamophobic incidents in the UK spike by 375% within a week.
“While freedom of expression is essential in a free society, the role of social media companies in combatting hate must also step up. It must not be forgotten that Brenton Tarrant used Facebook and Twitter to share links to his far-right manifesto The Great Replacement before starting his rampage, as well as livestreaming the attack, leading to video footage that has been shared millions of times across the world. At a time when Islamophobic and far-right sentiments are on the rise across the globe, and copy-cat attacks threaten everybody’s security, this sentencing is a hugely important signal New Zealand has sent, but also a reminder that we all still have a lot more to do.
“We offer our sincerest condolences to all those who lost their loved ones in the attacks on Al-Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in March 2019, and we continue to pray to God to increase them in strength and patience. We continue to pray for a world free from hatred and intolerance of all forms.”
In the British press following the massacre, it was shocking to see British tabloid headlines describe the terrorist as an “Angelic Boy”, whilst other media outlets showed reluctance to label him a terrorist, choosing to use terms like “gunman” or “lone wolf” instead. This is despite Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying on the same day that this can “only be described as a terrorist attack” and today’s sentencing confirming criminal charges of terrorism, as well as murder and attempted murder.
The British media has been consistently inconsistent with reporting on terrorism. Earlier this week, the MCB’s Centre for Media Monitoring released a new research report, How the British Media Reports Terrorism, that found that over half of terms like “terror”, “terrorism” or “terrorist” were used alongside “Islam” or “Muslim”; more than nine times more often than when terms like “far-right”, “neo-Nazi” or “white supremacist” were used to describe the perpetrator.
Rizwana Hamid, Director of Centre for Media Monitoring, said:
“The scale of the far-right terrorist threat is only recently being increasingly recognised by broadcasters and the press, but there is still a long way to go. Among the report’s recommendations are for UK media outlets to adopt a transparent and public definition of terrorism which is consistently applied to all terror attacks irrespective of the ideology of the perpetrator, and for organisations to avoid platforming far-right and white supremacist voices, unless their views are contextualised and can be sufficiently challenged.”