Renaud Camus’ 2011 book The Great Replacement seems to have inspired the gunman’s 74-page “manifesto” – it certainly served as the title for it. The French far-right polemicist has denounced the murders as “terrorist, terrible, criminal, disastrous and imbecilic”, but conceded the “ethnic substitution” that he argues is taking place in the west could encourage violence.
Camus, 72, told Agence France-Presse that the gunman “cannot claim to have acted according to my writings because I argue the opposite. If he wrote a brochure titled The Great Replacement it’s plagiarism, an abusive use of a phrase that is not his and that he plainly does not understand.”
The essayist, whose “theory” that Europe’s white majority is being steadily replaced by non-white, often Muslim immigrants, is often advanced by far right and anti-immigration figures in France and elsewhere on the continent, was convicted in 2015 of incitement to hatred or violence against Muslims.
Camus told AFP was was “absolutely non-violent. I utterly condemn these acts.” He added, however, that “what worries me most about what I call ‘the great replacement’ is precisely the extent to which it could encourage violence, of all kinds, in everyday life but also – obviously – in acts of terrorism”.
It seemed to him that the gunman was more likely to have been inspired by the Islamist terror attacks carried out in France in the past four or five years, he said: “I do not see what he should be more inspired by me than by acts that directly resemble those he carried out.”
Executive director Farhana Khera highlighted the president’s own role in fanning the flames of Islamophobia across the world, with “historic levels of hate crimes motivated by anti-Muslim bigotry” in recent years.
“In the wake of this heartbreaking, anti-Muslim mass slaughter, it is clear that more needs to be done to protect Muslims and all vulnerable communities from the very real dangers posed by hate and white nationalists. … It is not enough for President Trump to merely send thoughts and prayers. The President called neo-nazis and white nationalists ‘very fine people.’ This hate-filled murderer drew inspiration from Trump, and the white nationalist movement has celebrated Trump’s words and policies.”
The US attorney-general, William P Barr, has issued this statement on behalf of the justice department in Washington, going notably further than the president’s own “God bless all!”:
“Violence on the basis of religion is evil. Today’s attack in New Zealand is a sobering reminder that the threat of political and religious violence is real and that we must remain vigilant against it.”