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Mind the language

by Amit Roy

WHAT are the lessons from the Christchurch massacre? Could it happen here? And what
do we do to prevent another horror?

The questions people ask of Shamima Begum are also ones that need to be put to Brenton
Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian who allegedly carried out the attack.

What caused him to be radicalised?

So far the death toll in New Zealand is 50, not so different from the 52 killed in London
when four British youths turned suicide bombers in July 2005.

Tarrant travelled widely, absorbing far right philosophy as he went. He has left behind a
74-page “manifesto”, in which he has lauded Sir Oswald Moseley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, as the “person from history closest to my own beliefs”.

He also posted photographs of a magazine clip scrawled with the message, “For Rotherham” – a reference to the child sex abuse scandal in Yorkshire where dozens of men,
predominantly of Pakistani origin, targeted vulnerable white girls.

Last year when I interviewed Neil Basu, the assistant commissioner for specialist operations
in the Metropolitan Police and the national lead for counter terrorism, he posed the question: “Is policing the right agency to deal with what is a whole society problem and
where the causes of terrorism are well beyond the capability of policing to deal with it?”

As for the drivers of terrorism, Basu said, “There are lots of them – that’s the problem. Every individual who is inspired to become a terrorist quite often will have a different path.
It might be a personal grievance, it will be an ideology – we talk too much about it just being Islamist. Some say it is alien to British culture but, of course, Northern Ireland republican terrorism was effectively a religious war and a war about territory and kicking the English out of Northern Ireland.

“So, if there is an ideology, I would extend that to the extreme right wing, effectively a
white supremacist race war.

“The solutions to those are not within the gift of policing.”

In such circumstances it is important for people – especially some commentators in the UK – to moderate their language.