The Great Replacement classification decision

March 23, 2019

Following is a short summary of our classification decision on The Great Replacement. For the full legal decision, please see the linked file at the end of this summary.

The Great Replacement is a 74 page text file reportedly written by the attacker who killed 50 unarmed people at the Al-Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch on Friday 15th March 2019.

This document was banned because it promotes and encourages acts of terrorism in a way that is likely to be persuasive to its intended audience. It contains some instructional information that could assist in the perpetration of further terrorist acts, and provides justifications for mass murder and the killing of children. For this document we applied the law in exactly the same way as we have done for other promotional material from known terrorist organisations.

The content and context of the document sets it apart from most similar material: it is intrinsically linked to the worst terrorist atrocity in modern New Zealand history, and forms a defence of it; it was distributed online minutes before the attack to achieve maximum exposure and notoriety; it was distributed alongside livestream footage of the attacks which glorified and promoted extreme acts of violence and cruelty.

The document is specifically targeted at people who are already susceptible to its messages, being especially persuasive by use of ironic statements, internet memes and in-jokes that create a sense of community amongst those who share white supremacist views. People who share these views can see that the author is ‘one of us’, and so his calls for violent action are more likely to be persuasive.

In coming to our classification decision we took into account the possibility that an objectionable classification of this material might only increase its appeal to some individuals. Nonetheless, under our legislation we have a primary responsibility to apply the correct classification to ensure that those who might be vulnerable to radicalisation do not have easy access to this kind of material.

The same rules apply online and offline. Some things cross the line, whether it be images of child sexual abuse or material that promotes acts of terrorism. While digital content presents its own challenges, law enforcement agencies both in New Zealand and overseas have experience in meeting those challenges. People involved in the production, distribution and consumption of objectionable material can expect to face the consequences of that illegal activity. This makes a real difference.

Download the classification decision for The Great Replacement

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