What is Identitarianism?

Austrian authorities confirm that Christchurch gunman sent €1,500 to country’s chapter of the far-right movement

Flag with Identitarian Movement logo
A protester with a flag featuring the Identitarian Movement logo
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The leader of Austria’s far-right Identitarian Movement, Martin Sellner, received a substantial financial donation from a man believed to be the alleged perpetrator of the Christchurch mosque shootings, it has emerged.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz confirmed that a “link between the New Zealand attacker and the Identitarians had been uncovered”, Business Insider reports, in the form of donations linked to an email address belonging to Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old self-proclaimed “fascist” and perpetrator of the shootings, which left 50 people dead.

After the connection came to light, Sellner took to YouTube, which Vice News calls the “preferred platform of white nationalists”, to state he “received a donation through an email address that matched Tarrant’s name”, but denied that the alleged shooter was involved with the movement.

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What is the Identitarian Movement?

Identitäre Bewegung Österreichs (IBÖ), of which Sellner is the leader, is part of a “larger far-right Identitarian movement with branches in most western European countries, North America and New Zealand”, The Guardian reports. In the UK and Ireland, the movement goes by the name Generation Identity.

The book The Identitarians: the Movement against Globalism and Islam in Europe, published by Notre Dame Press, describes the Identitarians as a “quickly growing ethnocultural transnational movement that, in diverse forms, originated in France and Italy and has spread into southern, central, and northern Europe” at the beginning of the 2000s.

The Identitarian Movement espouses the view that immigration to Europe by non-white people and Muslims is a threat to what it refers to as the “European identity”.

In 2017, members “helped charter a ship as part of what they said was a campaign to defend Europe and they have tried to stop migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya”, says Reuters.

The group spreads its messages virally through popular video-sharing platforms. Its public spokespeople “tend to be over-groomed millennials like Sellner, and the movement explicitly aims to recruit young people”, says The Guardian.

Initially beginning as a vague anti-globalist and anti-Islamic movement, it has gone on to meld with other far-right political movements including the alt-right, particularly through the spread of its doctrine on video-sharing websites such as YouTube.

As a result, the university notes that the the Identitarian “intellectual and activist uprising has been a source of inspiration beyond Europe”, and can be tied to the “emerging American Alt Right, in the limelight for their support of President Trump”.

How does it describe itself?

The British and Irish chapter of the Identitarian Movement, known as Generation Identity, describes itself as a non-violent “patriotic youth movement” for ethnic Europeans which promotes the values of homeland, freedom and tradition through “peaceful activism, political education, and community & cultural activities”.

The movement claims that non-white, non-Christian immigration “will turn us into minorities in our own countries in a few decades”, and calls on “patriotic Europeans”, to “preserve the cultural heritage that has characterised our countries and the continent of Europe over many thousands of years”.

Europe Now Journal speculates that the movement has avoided the term “nationalist” to describe itself as the word “has become so loaded because of the legacy of Nazism in Europe”.

What do others say?

The Identitarians couch their insidious white nationalist beliefs in euphemistic references to “ethnic conflicts”, “defence of Western civilisation” and “pride in white achievements”, says the Business Standard. Such phrases act as “racist dog whistles for this call for action to prevent the ‘disappearance’ of the white race”.

Hope Not Hate notes that, at its core, identitarianism is built on a “rejection of liberal multiculturalism and the promotion instead of ‘ethnopluralism’: the idea that different ethnic groups are equal but ought to live in separation from one another”.

“European identitarians’ desire for ethnopluralism and attachment to such a strict notion of ethnic and cultural identity, draws especially from a conspiratorial fear that the continent will succumb to ‘Islamification’ from mass migration, which would eventually lead to a ‘Great Replacement’ of ‘indigenous’ Europeans,” the site adds.

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