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The Rise of White Nationalism and Transnational Islamophobia

Shared animosity toward Muslims has produced a transnational alliance of convenience between white nationalists, Hindutva extremists, and hardline supporters of Israel.

A speaker addresses a rally in lower Manhattan against the construction of the so-called Ground Zero mosque on August 22, 2010. (Photo Credit: David Shankbone via Flickr)
A speaker addresses a rally in lower Manhattan against the construction of the so-called Ground Zero mosque on August 22, 2010. (Photo Credit: David Shankbone via Flickr)

The terrorist attacks last month on two mosques in New Zealand brought to fore the dual dangers of white nationalism and the demonization of Muslims. The mosque massacres in New Zealand do not come out of a vacuum. There’s a broader discourse of white nationalism that’s grown in the era of Trump. And so has anti-Muslim sentiment or Islamophobia. In recent years, these interlinked forces have resulted in attempted or successful mass-casualty attacks on Muslim congregations in Western countries.

But rising anti-Muslim sentiment is not limited to the West. We see it across Asia, including in India, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. And it has made for odd alliances of conveniences between groups that share an antipathy toward Muslims, including white and Hindu nationalists. It’s a phenomenon perhaps best described as “transnational Islamophobia.”

In this episode, we’ll examine the motivations of the perpetrator of the New Zealand terrorist attacks and explore the commonalities of anti-Muslim discourses across the globe.

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Arif Rafiq is the editor of Globely News and host of The Pivot podcast. He's contributed to publications such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the New Republic, and POLITICO Magazine, and has appeared on broadcast outlets such as Al Jazeera English, the BBC World Service, CNN International, and National Public Radio. Rafiq is also a non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC.

Mohan Bhagwat is the leader of the Hindutva extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) organization. (Image Credit: Vishal Dutta/Flickr) Mohan Bhagwat is the leader of the Hindutva extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) organization. (Image Credit: Vishal Dutta/Flickr)

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