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The New Zealand massacre and the weaponisation of history

28 24 65
24.03.2019

On March 15, Australian-born Brenton Tarrant attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 50 people using five guns inscribed with the names of various historical figures and battles. It was not the first time a white supremacist was weaponising the past. Twisted representations of history have driven the far right across the globe - from India to Russia to the United States and all the way to Australia - since its inception.

The inscriptions on Tarrant's weapons and his 74-page online manifesto reflect the popular "clash of civilisations" narrative which reduces history to an epic struggle between Christendom and Islam. In his sick mind, Tarrant surely believes that he, too, is a hero in this imagined war, a crusader on a mission to stop the Muslim "invaders".

The problem is that the historical figures and events he sees as an inspiration, very much disprove the belief that there is a clear-cut tectonic fault line between the Christian and Islamic worlds and that they are in constant conflict with each other. Here are just a few examples of how Tarrant got history wrong.

Tarrant, like his idol Anders Breivik, who in 2011 detonated a bomb in central Oslo killing 8 people before massacring 69 people on an island - most of them teenagers - seems to be obsessed with the medieval Crusades. He is particularly fond of the Knights Templars, the Crusade-era order of Christian warrior monks, which still captures popular imagination, particularly among the alt-right.

The order was founded in 1119, 20 years after the first Crusade captured Jerusalem, to protect Christian pilgrims making their way to the Holy Land. Although its members were sworn to reject the personal pursuit of wealth, the order soon came to control vast amounts of money and properties, and when infighting broke out among Christian leaders in the Holy Land, it readily took part. The Templars played a key role in the succession crisis........

© Al Jazeera