Section: 4.3 Intersectionality and misogyny

Intersections with Faith and Religion

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March 15 terrorist Attacks led to a rise in islamophobia and targeting of Muslim Women

In both the UK and Australia, research points to a rise in Islamophobia, with Muslim women being disproportionately targeted. The Tell MAMA UK 2023 report1 highlighted a significant surge in anti-Muslim hate incidents in 2020, with a 40.6% increase from the previous year. A large portion of these, around 600, were online. The aftermath of the Christchurch attacks in 2019 saw a 692% spike in reported cases in the UK, with incidents ranging from verbal abuse to more threatening behaviours, including vandalism of Muslim institutions.

Similarly, in Australia, a study2 by the Islamophobia Register Australia (IRA) from 2018 to 2019 found that 82% of the victims of 247 verified incidents were women. A significant portion of these incidents, 109 in total, occurred online. The majority of these online incidents, 86%, took place on Facebook. Furthermore, political figures in Australia were found endorsing anti-Muslim sentiments online, further fuelling the hate.

Both countries show a trend of visibly Muslim women being the primary victims. In the UK, 38% of incidents in 2016 targeted Muslim women in traditional clothing, a figure that has only grown.1 In Australia, 78% of the reporters of online incidents were women, marking a significant increase from the previous 42%.2

In both the UK and Australia, the perpetrators of Islamophobic incidents were predominantly male. The Tell MAMA UK 2023 report highlighted that victims of Islamophobic abuse are often outnumbered by their abusers. This trend supports the theory that perpetrators tend to select victims who are in a relatively vulnerable position, perceived as less able to defend themselves or seek help from others.1 In Australia, 78% of the perpetrators were men, with 91% of them perceived as ‘Anglo’.2

Research shows that, in the aftermath of terrorist attacks, there is often an increase in hate, abuse and harassment, online and offline, directed at the community targeted by the attack.

The March 15 terrorist attacks in 2019 had a profound and far-reaching impact on the Muslim communities in both the UK and Australia, amplifying existing Islamophobic sentiments and triggering a surge in anti-Muslim incidents.

In the UK,1 the immediate aftermath of the Christchurch attacks saw an alarming 692% increase in reported cases to Tell MAMA in just one week, rising from 12 to 95 incidents. This surge was not limited to mere verbal abuse. The Muslim community faced a range of threatening behaviours, from mimicking gunshots to gestures indicating violence.1 Vandalism of Muslim institutions became more frequent, with graffiti symbols, including swastikas and references to the Christchurch livestream, appearing in various locations. Between February and March alone, threatening behaviours towards Muslims escalated by 225%. A significant portion of these incidents specifically targeted Muslim women, especially those wearing traditional Islamic clothing. By 2022, the gendered nature of these attacks became even more pronounced, with Muslim women, particularly those in public spaces or using public transport, emerging as the primary victims.1

Similarly, in Australia,2 the Islamophobia Register Australia (IRA) documented a sharp rise in Islamophobic incidents post-Christchurch. Within just two weeks after the attacks, offline cases reported to the IRA increased fourfold, while online cases saw an 18-fold surge. The nature of these incidents also evolved, with a marked increase in graffiti, vandalism, verbal threats, and other forms of hate incidents. Mosques, leisure areas, and car parks became primary hotspots for these attacks. Online platforms, especially Facebook, saw a significant rise in Islamophobic content, with 86% of the online incidents occurring there. The number of female reporters of these online incidents also jumped from 42% to 78%.

The online vitriol was particularly intense against Muslim women, with threats ranging from mass killings to direct violence.2 The most prevalent death threat was the mass killing of Muslims (55%). Some viewed incidents like Christchurch as just the beginning, advocating for larger scale attacks. Other threats included direct killing (18%), shooting (8%), throat-slitting (5%), and halal-style killing (3%).2

When comparing the 138 offline cases to the 109 online ones, it was evident that women reported experiencing islamophobia more frequently in both scenarios. Offline incidents were more likely to be reported to the police (29%) compared to online incidents (9%).

Online platforms exhibited a higher prevalence of hate rhetoric, with associations of Muslims with terrorism (53% online vs. 24% offline) and xenophobic insults (48% online vs. 34% offline) being more common. Similarly, online platforms had a higher association with hate groups (58%) compared to offline incidents (7%), primarily due to the difficulty in identifying perpetrators' affiliations in physical settings.2

In both countries,12 the Christchurch attacks seemed to embolden many, lowering their inhibitions towards violence and amplifying anti-Muslim sentiments. The data underscores that events like the Christchurch attacks don't merely trigger guilt but rather fuel anti-Muslim sentiments, galvanising extremists both online and offline.

Social media failed to act.

Research3 by the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that social media companies including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter (now X) and YouTube failed to act on 89% of posts containing anti-Muslim hate and Islamophobic content reported to them, with some of these posts being viewed at least 25 million times.

The study highlighted the role of social media in perpetuating anti-Muslim hate. For example, platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and TikTok allow users to use hashtags such as #islamiscancer, #deathtoislam and #raghead, with content using these hashtags, receiving at least 1.3 million impressions.

Researchers observed that Facebook hosted pages and groups dedicated to spreading anti-Muslim sentiments, amassing a combined following of 361,922 members across the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. They also identified 20 posts across various platforms that either glorified the perpetrator of the March 15 terrorist attack or featured footage of the attack.

Hate and discrimination targeting Muslim women in New Zealand

Muslim women in New Zealand experienced racism, discrimination and hate, particularly in the five years prior to the Christchurch attacks, as reported by the Islamic Women's Council of New Zealand in their submissions4 to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Attack on Christchurch Mosques on 15 March 2019. According to the submissions, members of the Muslim community had been formally reporting an increase in hateful threats coming from the extreme far-right in New Zealand, particularly against Muslim women wearing hijab, who are easily identifiable.

The submissions also indicated that the threats and abuse persisted after the 2019 Christchurch terrorist attacks, which mirrors the findings from the Islamophobia Register Australia report2 on real-world and online Islamophobia in Australia following the Christchurch attacks. While there is no similar data for New Zealand, the Islamic Women's Council of New Zealand stated that the Australian report’s findings echoed their experience of rising Islamophobia in New Zealand.5 The Royal Commission Report into the Christchurch attacks6 stated that Muslim women tended to experience racism, discrimination and hate more than men.

Following the March 15 terrorist attacks, the New Zealand Police began collecting data on whether offences were hate-motivated, as perceived by officers, victims, or witnesses. In 2024, they released statistics on hate-motivated crime targeting various groups, including Muslims in New Zealand.

Gap: Further research is required to document online harms, including online misogyny and gender-based violence, specifically targeting Muslim women in New Zealand.

Misogyny and antisemitism

Research shows that prejudices and hate against women from Jewish and Muslim backgrounds are entrenched in extreme far-right rhetoric, contributing to the broader ecosystem of violent extremism, and are amplified by online platforms algorithms.

Online abuse targeting women journalists, especially with racial and misogynistic undertones, is a growing global concern.7 According to a 2022 global UNESCO and International Center for Journalists survey,7 88% of Jewish women journalists reported experiencing online violence.

A 2021 collaborative report8 by HOPE not hate and the Antisemitism Policy Trust looked into the connection between antisemitism and misogyny, showing how anti-feminist and misogynistic attitudes can pave the way for antisemitism and racism. The study indicates that the extreme far-right has been particularly effective in channelling misogyny into antisemitic sentiment, often through conspiracy theories like ‘Cultural Marxism’ and ‘White Genocide’, which falsely accuse Jews of undermining society through feminism and promoting the erosion of traditional gender roles.

In their social media analysis, the researchers examined over 5.6 million messages from 73 far-right English-language Telegram channels, ranging from conspiracy theory milieu to explicit fascist or Nazi promoting channels. The aim was to investigate the extent and the nature of misogyny and gender politics in such spaces, and their intersection with antisemitism.

The analysis found that open misogyny was present in these channels, with attacks on gay men highlighting the hetero-male dominance of these spaces. The research revealed that sexual assault emerged as a significant theme, with nearly 46,200 posts mentioning 'rape' and an additional 3,900 referring to 'rapist.' These discussions were framed within far-right tropes that depict white women and children as victims of ethnic minorities. This serves to position white men in a ‘protector’ role, while also perpetuating the conspiracy theory of Jews endangering white women by facilitating the influx of "rapacious immigrants”, with a subset of these messages further demonising Jews as perpetrators of sexual violence, particularly against children.

Lastly, the study pointed out that the influence of ‘manosphere’ ideologies on far-right discourse is apparent, despite a general rejection of manosphere subcultures themselves. This is seen in the dehumanised view of sexual relationships and the focus on "alpha" and "beta" males, with "Jew" derogatorily equated to "beta male”.

What is Cultural Marxism?

The Frankfurt School, officially known as the Institute for Social Research, was formed at the University of Frankfurt. It was an independent group of mainly Marxist intellectuals led by Felix Weil, who aimed to broaden Marxist theory. They delved into the psychological and societal underpinnings of modern capitalist societies and the rise of fascism in the 1930s.


The term, cultural Marxism, is often misused by the far-right to describe an alleged leftist academic influence on Western culture, which they claim seeks to undermine traditional values through progressive politics, feminism, multiculturalism, and non-traditional gender roles.

The term misrepresents the scope and intentions of the Frankfurt School's critical theory, which was more concerned with understanding the roots of oppression and authoritarianism within capitalist societies. This conspiracy theory also harbours strong anti-Semitic undercurrents, continuing a historical pattern of portraying Jewish people as clandestine disruptors of society.9

Understanding, cultural Marxism- as a far-right anti-Semitic extremist theory

Cultural Marxism is a conspiracy theory with anti-Semitic tropes,10 pushed by the extreme American Far-right,11 and now popular within European extreme far-right. It falsely attributes the origins of modern progressive movements, identity politics, and political correctness to the Frankfurt School, suggesting these intellectuals, who were mostly Jewish, devised a deliberate plan to undermine Western society. According to this theory, there is a concerted effort to wage a cultural war against traditional "Christian values" of conservatism, aiming to supplant them with liberal values.

Cultural Marxism in the Oslo terrorist’s manifesto

Anders Breivik's fear12 and use of the term "cultural Marxism" are rooted in a broader far-right ideology that views the Frankfurt School as a primary source of social and cultural decay in the West. Breivik, and others who share his views, see the Frankfurt School's theories as an attack on traditional cultural values, which they believe are the foundation of Western civilisation.

Breivik particularly opposed the Frankfurt School's critique of traditional authority and their analysis of culture as a key arena for social power dynamics. This perspective threatened his idealised view of a culturally and ethnically homogenous society that adheres to conservative, nationalist values.

The fear stems from a perceived existential threat to Western culture.13 Breivik, and those who think like him, feared that the continued influence of Frankfurt School theories would lead to the erosion of traditional Western cultural norms and the displacement of the indigenous populations by multicultural and progressive policies. This fear is often expressed as a conspiracy theory in which the Frankfurt School is seen not just as a group of academic theorists but as orchestrators of a deliberate undermining of Western society.

Breivik viewed his actions as a defence against this perceived threat, aiming to 'wake up' others to the dangers of cultural Marxism. His attack was not only against individuals but was intended as a statement against what he saw as the architects of cultural decline—academics, politicians, and other influencers who promote diversity and progressive values.

By opposing the Frankfurt School and its ideas, Breivik was essentially opposing a caricature of Marxist influence on culture that has been amplified in extreme far-right discourse, not necessarily engaging with the actual, nuanced theories that the school proposed. This is a common pattern in extremist ideologies, where complex social theories are reduced to simplistic, threatening caricatures.912

Gap: We could not find specific studies or literature with focus on the experiences of Jewish women in New Zealand with online misogyny, gender-based violence and gendered-antisemitism.

Further reading

Studies and reports: Intersections with faith or religion


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