UPDATED: 2:56 a.m. EDT — At least 40 people were killed in the terror attacks on two mosques in New Zealand, according to a report from NBC News. Dozens of other Muslims who were worshipping during Friday prayers in the town of Christchurch were injured, as well.
Video footage purportedly from one of two separate apparent terror attacks on two mosques in New Zealand showed a gunman was listening to “American civil war music” before and during a shooting that left an untold number of people dead on Friday. If the video footage turns out to be authentic, it could provide a clue for the possible motivation behind the deadly attack on Muslims worshipping in peace in Christchurch, a city in the country’s South Island.
“The gunman begins the video by saying ‘let’s get this party started’ and listens to American civil war music on his way to the shooting,” according to a tweet from 7 News Brisbane in neighboring Australia.
Three men and one woman were taken into custody, the Associated Press reported. Multiple explosive devices were also reportedly found in the aftermath. The death toll varied with reports ranging from fewer than 10 people killed to more than 30.
While the world has seen a sharp uptick in Islamophobia-related attacks and sentiment, the Civil War music was one aspect of the terror attack in New Zealand that should not be ignored for a number of reasons. Namely, because the Civil War was a conflict that centered on slavery, the apparent decision of the gunman to play the signature fifes and drums tune was likely an indicator of how he feels about Black and brown people as a whole.
The Civil War was, of course, waged by the Confederate States of America (the Confederacy), which literally fought a losing battle to keep slavery thriving. While that may not be the context that may have provided the motivation for Friday’s terror attacks in New Zealand, the gunman’s choice of music should not be dismissed as irrelevant since Confederate soldiers were in essence terrorists themselves.
Aside from the Islamophobia, xenophobia itself has been on the rise across the globe, as well. The combination of Black and brown Muslims, many of whom were probably born outside of New Zealand, participating in Friday prayers probably proved to be too much for the apparent racist Islamophobes who launched Friday’s terror attack.
“Muslims are the most rapidly growing religious group in New Zealand with the population increasing six-fold between 1991 and 2006,” according to research by Victoria University of Wellington, a research institution in New Zealand. The religious group was “about 1% of the population” of around 5 million people, and most were “overseas-born with the largest proportions identifying as Indian (29%) and as members of Middle Eastern groups (21%) such as Arab, Iranian and Iraqi.”
However, anti-Muslim sentiment has been increasingly expressed in New Zealand over the past few years. Immigration as a whole has been a contentious topic in New Zealand for decades, especially when it comes to Muslims.
A Muslim civil rights group based in the U.S. said it was mourning for the victims of Friday’s attacks.
“This heinous attack is not an anomaly or a surprise,” Muslim Advocates said in part in a statement on Friday. “Over the past few years, there has been an epidemic of attacks and planned attacks on Muslim communities and mosques across the United States. … The American Muslim community has faced deadly attacks in recent years, but rarely have we witnessed such brutal carnage as today’s tragedy in New Zealand.”
7 News Brisbane tweeted the live streamed video footage that purportedly showed a gunman listening to the Civil War music. The video is very graphic and should be watched with discretion.