The New Zealand Shootings & Nigerian Killings

The city of Christchurch in New Zealand, also referred to as Garden city is known for its beautiful parks, gardens and tree-lined streets. However, it recently became infamous for a horrific incident of mass murder.

The city of Christchurch in New Zealand, also referred to as Garden city is known for its beautiful parks, gardens and tree-lined streets. However, it recently became infamous for a horrific incident of mass murder.

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The New Zealand Shootings & Nigerian Killings

-By Heather McDonald

The city of Christchurch in New Zealand, also referred to as Garden city is known for its beautiful parks, gardens and tree-lined streets. However, it recently became infamous for a horrific incident of mass murder. 

Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian born, white supremacist while live streaming on Facebook, walked into Masjid Al Noor mosque in the city during Friday prayers armed with automatic rifles. He proceeded to indiscriminately shoot and kill 50 Muslim worshipers and injuring 50 others.

He then got into his car drove a short distance away to another venue, Linwood Mosque where he shot and killed another 7 people. Tarrant had also rigged two vehicles with improvised explosive devices that were defused by law enforcement. Tarrant a former personal trainer had posted a Manifesto on his Facebook page moments before the rampage.

In the manifesto which has a clear reference to controversial French philosopher Renaud Camus. He argues that European civilization and identity are threatened by mass migration, especially from Muslim countries. He wrote that mass immigration would disfranchise, subvert, and destroy white people and their culture.

Describing himself as an ordinary white man, he addressed the question of why Christ church happened by clearly stating that he meant to terrify Muslims and dissuade them from ever moving to the west. He also claimed it was to avenge the killing of a 12-year-old Swedish girl, Ebba Akerland,who was run down in 2017 by Rakmat Akilov an Islamic State Uzbek terrorist.

Another reason he cited for his actions was that he was fighting against those with intentions of weakening the second amendment Gun laws in the United States. He supports those who believe in the right to bear arms and intended to cause a rift in the US along cultural, political, and racial lines.

Tarrant radicalization

Tarrant documented his radicalization and the two years of the preparation of the attacks in his Manifesto titled The Great Replacement. After his father’s death, his inheritance enabled him to travel widely. Authorities in Croatia, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Turkey have all have confirmed he visited their countries between 2016 and 2018, as he studied conflicts between Christians and the Ottoman Empire.

While traveling in Europe he witnessed an immigrant crime that made an impression on him. He described the natives as dispirited and observed that they were dying out, which motivated him to act.

Tarrant is of the opinion that most white people are apathetic and ignorant of the invasion in their midst. Authorities have established he acted alone and three suspects arrested in connection with the shooting were not charged.

He also donated around 1500 Euros ($2,383) to the private bank account of Martin Sellner, the head of Austria’s Identitarian movement Generation Identity a far-right white nationalist movement that originated in France. The group is now facing a ban by the Austrian government for the alleged ties to the New Zealand mass shooter and is terming it as an overreaction.

New Zealand Government Reaction

Currently, all gun owners in New Zealand must have a license but individual weapons do not need to be registered. Because of this policy, the police say they cannot be sure of the number of legally owned firearms in for there are no records for the majority of the guns. Applicants for a firearm license must pass a background check of both medical and criminal records. 

Prior to the attack, the minimum legal age for owning a gun in New Zealand was 16 or 18 for military-style semi-automatic weapons. Tarrant had obtained a gun license in November 2017 and owned five guns.

Less than a week after the Christ church shooting, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hastily announced a blanket ban on all military-style semi-automatic (MSSA), high-capacity magazines, and assault rifles in the country. New Zealand has more than 1.2 million civilian-owned firearms equivalent to about one gun for every four people.

An amnesty was imposed so owners of the affected weapons can surrender them to the authorities in an NZ $200 million government buyback scheme. Once the amnesty expires, anyone still in possession of a banned weapon will face a fine of up to NZ $4000 and serve a three-year jail term.

This has been termed by some as an overreaction by the New Zealand government and that it’s sending the message that white people are to blame for the killings. Some also have the opinion that it diverts attention from the more common terrorism by Muslims against others, to terrorism towards Muslims by the so-called white people.

Nigeria’s Christian killings

Elsewhere in Nigeria, it has emerged that the Fulani militia a predominantly Muslim tribe, has killed at least 120 people including women and children, in the mostly Christian Adara chiefdom of southern Kaduna and other areas in Nigeria in a series of attacks. 

What used to be spontaneous attacks are now premeditated, carefully coordinated, and planned attacks on Christians. In one instance the attackers allegedly divided themselves into three groups, one group attacked by shooting and killing, another group attacked by setting fire to homes while the third group hid and attacked by intercepting the terrified, fleeing villagers in an attempt to inflict maximum casualties.

Causes of the conflict


The Fulani are a semi-nomadic tribe of herd’s men who herd cattle over vast areas, environmental conditions limit the amount of land used for agricultural purposes, and pastoralists, therefore, graze around arid regions. However, due to recurrent drought, nomadic herders have had to compete with farmers for pasture. 

The majorities of herders are Muslims and they have been fighting with Christians for centuries. The conflict is fundamentally about the pasture, and the disagreements have prompted them to take up arms against local Christian farmers over grazing areas, and water.

The first thing that has escalated the conflict is the immense growth of ethnic militias like the Fulani bearing mostly illegal firearms. According to the Global Terrorism Index, the Fulani herdsmen are responsible for more deaths than the Boko Haram since 2016.

The Government

According to Amnesty International, the Nigerian government has displayed incompetence and has failed to protect the lives of its citizens especially Christians by allowing impunity to reign and killings to spread to many parts of the western African country. 

Politicians have inflamed tensions along party lines by preaching divisive politics, further escalating the issue. Due to the diversity of the African people, Politicians in Africa generally galvanize support by appealing to ethnic ties and religious divisions. 

The Muslim Hausa-Fulani are the predominant ethnic group in the northern region. They have been politically dominant since Nigeria’s independence in 1960. The government, therefore, is pro Hausa Fulani and that might explain the reluctance intervene and protect the Christians.

The government has also failed to prosecute past violent perpetrators. This has fueled a vicious cycle of attacks and reprisal attacks between the mostly Christian farmers and herders. Also ignoring warnings of impending raids has also been cited as a reason. 

National grazing reserve bill

The current estimated population in Nigeria has increased from 65 million in the sixties to approximately 190 million today. This has put pressure on land, water, and other resources.

As a political response to violent conflict, the Nigerian government introduced anti-grazing laws in four states in 2016; the laws meant to restrict the nomadic herder communities from encroaching into the farming communities. 

This resulted in the mostly Muslim nomadic communities to migrate with their herds into other states without similar laws then indiscriminately grazing them sparking clashes with farming communities.

The National grazing reserve bill is a proposed law that will cede community lands to the mostly herdsmen; it will dispossess landowners and give it to the predominantly Muslim Hausa-Fulani to graze their cattle without compensation to the Christian farmers. This will most likely cause more problems than it will solve. Policies have been enacted in the past to soothe subsisting situations without considering future implications.

This conflict has taken a religious and ethnic dimension with fears of escalation into other areas, the roots of the conflict lie in climate-induced pasture degradation which is threatening the Fulani’s livelihood.


It’s clear to see how much media attention the New Zealand mass shooting received and continue to receive as opposed to the ongoing killing of Christians in Nigeria. 

One possible reason could be because of the expectation the media has on the nature of this kind of violence. In Nigeria, the right people are getting killed and of course by those that the media would expect to be involved in such acts of violence ie. People of Islamic faith killing those of Christians faith. This doesn’t amount to attractive breaking news as its what people would expect to happen.

Whereas in the New Zealand attack, it was Muslims being killed by a white supremacist which is not what the mainstream media is used to reporting. Historically, violence against Christian by Muslims has been rife in Nigeria, especially in the northern part of the country and most of the killings happening in the area are mostly ignored by the mainstream media. 

Another reason would be due to the fact that New Zealand has been historically very peaceful with very low crime rates and therefore nobody really expected this kind of violence to take place here, let alone by a white supremacist against Muslims.

Lastly, it’s also good to note that the conflict in Nigeria is not just about religion, but also the clamor for resources, mostly land, somehow degenerates into divisions along ethnic and religious lines. This has proven to be less attractive to the mainstream media as opposed to an all-out religious conflict purely based on religious ideology.

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