A year ago this week a white supremacist massacred 51 Muslims in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in an attack that shocked the world and put the spotlight on the rise of racist attacks occurring worldwide.

"The level of violence, the number of people killed, the way it was live-streamed ... I think was really shocking," said Christian Picciolini, a former neo-Nazi who founded the Free Radicals Project, which works to deradicalise individuals.

In recent months there have been a number of attacks fuelled by white nationalism in places like Germany, France and the United States. Cynthia Miller-Idriss, a senior fellow at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right, says the phenomenon is in part caused by a legitimisation of the ideology by mainstream politicians.

"You do see mainstream politicians here and overseas echoing the same kind of anti-immigrant, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic kinds of ideas or conspiracy theories," Miller-Idriss said.

"And if these people feel legitimised and like they can just walk around in public or enact violence, that is a problem," she added.

Connections between violent far-right groups from various countries have been known for decades, but the rise of social media platforms and increased connectivity have facilitated the ideology spreading across borders.

"When I was involved in the white supremacist movement in the US, from '87 to '96, we were already forging those connections in places like Germany. So I think that it's ramping up. I think that these connections overseas are starting to get more violent," Picciolini said. 

"The last couple of attacks in Germany, either the live-streaming or the manifestos were in English for a reason, right? ... They were designed to communicate to a larger audience and trying to speak to people outside of the country," said Miller-Idriss.

On this week’s episode of UpFront, we discuss white nationalism with Christian Picciolini and Cynthia Miller-Idriss.

Source: Al Jazeera