Anti-fascist Aotearoa held a vigil in solidarity with our Muslim whānau, against white supremacist terrorism, Islamophobia, and conspiracy theories, outside the Christchurch District Court at 9am on Wednesday, 7th December 2022.
Two Counterspin Media defendants were returning to court on that day, for featuring video content from the March 2019 massacre in their online publications.
“We gather in the spirit of peace and aroha, steadfast in our commitment to oppose white supremacist violence in Aotearoa. We will cloak the vigil space with kōrero, prayer and waiata. We stand firmly for inclusivity, aroha and solidarity with minorities and vulnerable groups,” said Sina Brown-Davis, member of Anti-Fascist Aotearoa.
“As Counterspin Media return to court we are reminded of the real life and tragic consequences of unchecked hate speech, the March 15 white supremacist terror attack which leaves an indelible scar on New Zealand’s history.”
“Counterspin Media propagates hate and fuels conspiracy theories, leading their followers to issue threats and carry out harassment and intimidation of public figures, journalists, and marginalised communities.”
“Counterspin Media are dangerous online perpetrators of offensive content who claim “free speech” while they encourage more hatred, violence and disinformation.”
“Counterspin Media published video footage of the white supremacist led massacre of 51 Muslims, in their effort to minimise and dismiss the tragedy, they claimed a conspiracy theory. This retraumatisation significantly increases the pain and prolongs the suffering for those who lost loved ones, and prevents Aotearoa New Zealand from healing. “
Parallels can be drawn with other icons of conspiracy theories and disinformation, such as US based media outlet Infowars’ Alex Jones, who infamously led a conspiracy theory that the Sandy Hook massacre at a primary school in 2012 was a “hoax”. In August of this year Alex Jones was ordered by Texas District Court to pay $49 million in damages to parents of a Sandy Hook victim, and in October a court in Connecticut ordered Jones to pay victims’ families $965 million in compensatory damages, and $473 million in punitive damages for his harmful denial and hoax conspiracy theory.
“What Counterspin Media does in our country mirrors the awful denialism by Alex Jones and InfoWars of the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, which resulted in similar pain and trauma for victims in the United States. Justice for those who deny the March 2019 massacre must follow suit.”
“We cannot say that we are honouring the victims and their whanau of the mosque attacks if Islamophobia, xenophobia, and hate speech remains unchecked in this country. We cannot say we are honouring the victims of the mosque attacks if violent white supremacist propaganda can proliferate.”
“We are thinking of and holding in our hearts our Muslim whānau today.”
“We reflect on the individual, collective and institutional failure of us as a country to challenge and counter Islamaphobia, and protect Muslims from white supremacist terrorism.”
“We must hold on to the best nature of humanity and stand in absolute defiance of the scandalmongers, hate preachers, and violence makers hellbent on dividing communities and perpetuating a culture of intimidation and oppression. Their success or failure is ultimately in our hands, we stand up for a future free from religious discrimination, racism and hate.”
“We will show that white supremacist violence and hateful rhetoric is not acceptable in Aotearoa. Ka Tu Kotahi Tatou – We Stand United with Aroha for Our Muslim Whanau.”
Thanks to the following groups for supporting us in our māhi and endorsing our vigil:
Migrants and Refugees against Xenophobia
Foundation Against Islamophobia and Racism
Asians for Tino Rangatiratanga
Peace Action Wellington
Poneke Anti Fascist Coalition
Auckland Peace Action
IPU Indigenous Pacific Uprising
The Manaaki Collective
Anti Fascist Ōtautahi
Anti Fascist Ōtepoti
Anti Fascist Aotearoa