New Zealand Massacre: White Nationalist Iconography and Ideology

15th March 2019

The manifesto and the gun decorations displayed by Brenton Tarrant, the man arrested for the horrifying massacre of scores of worshippers at two New Zealand mosques, are steeped in the iconography of the neo Nazi far Right. This is a deliberate choice: the purpose of the attack is to spread these ideas.

Many readers will be familiar with the thesis of the Great Replacement, which originated with the French writer, Renaud Camus, and is popular in White Nationalist circles. The conspiracy theory posits a “globalist” conspiracy to replace the white population of Europe with a non-white population. It is this theme that runs through Tarrant’s manifesto, which is titled The Great Replacement.

Tarrant uses the neo Nazi “Black Sun” motif on the cover of the manifesto. The Black Sun incorporates the ‘sig runes’, which were popularised by the German Nazi Party. The Black Sun itself was displayed as a mosaic on the floor of Wewelsburg Castle, which became an SS “School” following its purchase by Himler.

This symbol also appears as a patch on a bag carried by Tarrant.

The lower of the two dog tags displays the Celtic or Odin Cross, which is also commonly associated with a wide variety of neo Nazi groups.

Bellingcat, which has published an important analysis of other aspects of the ideological message promoted by Tarrant, also notes that one gun is painted with the legend “14 words”

The “Fourteen Words” are:

“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”

They were formulated by the convicted neo Nazi, David Lane, and again are associated with the White Nationalist far Right.

Others have noted that a number of the markings on the guns reference various battles and military figures, from the Medieval period onwards, relating to conflict between European and Muslim armies. The first, as the historian Tom Holland has observed, is Charles Martel: who fought the Battle of Tours against the Umayyad Caliphate in 732. In this, Tarrant mirrors the practice of Takfri jihadist groups. As Tom Holland says:

“Reports that the Christchurch gunman had ‘Charles Martel’ inscribed on his weapons points to how ISIS are not alone in using ancient battles as justification and inspiration for slaughter. These long dead generals, like revenants, still bringing death into the present…”

Other aspects of the manifesto point to inspiration from other European far Right sources, which similarly see contemporary history through the lens of a struggle between White European and Muslim invaders. The political scientist, Jasmin Mujanović, notes the use of “Turks” to describe his enemy:

My suspicion is rooted in the fact that “Turk” is not a common slur among Western far-right more generally but very common in the Balkans. And since he’s clearly familiar w/ Bosnian War & Genocide, my logic is he picked up on some of the extremist terminology in that context.

The music which is playing in Tarrant’s car in the video which he live streamed during the attack features the Bosnian Serb anthem, “Bog je Srbin i on će nas čuvati” (“God is a Serb & he will protect us”), sometimes called “Remove Kebab”.

Tarrant appears to have been steeped in the ideology of a particular part of the global far Right which is deeply conspiricist and posits a globalist conspiracy in order to replace White European populations. The following page will give you a flavour of this worldview.

The manifesto also identifies the British fascist leader, Sir Oswald Mosley: the grandfather of the British far Right as a significant inspiration:

Was there a political figure or party in history you most associate yourself with?

Sir Oswald Mosley is the person from history closest to my own beliefs.

This is a mass murder both inspired by, and designed to promote this ideology.