On the night of October 12th, 19-year-old Juraj Krajčík opened fire at Tepláreň bar, a popular Bratislava LGBTQ+ venue, murdering two people and wounding another. The gunman was found dead by a self-inflicted gunshot the following day. A few hours before the attack he shared a 65-page manifesto titled Call to Arms across various file-sharing sites, which are laden with antisemitic, homophobic and white-supremacist rhetoric, detailing his motivations, life experiences and hateful far-right ideology. Unfortunately this attack is not unusual and is one among many of its kind in recent years.
Krajčík was a college student and son of a member of the now-defunct Vlast, a Slovak right-wing nationalist political party. According to police reports, he is believed to have used his father’s gun to carry out the attack. Across many media platforms including the BBC, his actions have been considered a hate crime, yet they must also be condemned as terrorism. One must ask themselves, if this sort of attack were carried out by a non-white perpetrator, would this not be immediately classified as terrorism? Would there not be far more public outcry?
In 2020, far-right attacks increased by 320% in five years across America, Western Europe and Oceania. According to the Global Terrorism Index (2020), there was just one recorded far-right-related attack in 2010, however, there were 49 in 2019. Alarmingly, in the United States, more civilians have been killed in far-right terrorist attacks than by Islamist extremists since 9/11, and the US Intelligence Community has even recently declared that white supremacists now pose the nation’s largest national security threat. However, when discussed politically or through the media, far-right terrorists are often depicted as murderers, lone wolves, career criminals or individuals with psychological problems. Academics like Schuurman (2019) demonstrate that Islamist terrorism is overly focused on not only in the media, but through policy and academia too. In comparison, far-right ideologies have seldom been discussed or scrutinized, thus far less importance has been placed on their obviously increasing threat.
Terrorism is admittedly a contested and complex term as there is no universally agreed-upon definition, but generally, according to terrorism scholar Bruce Hoffman, it involves the use or threat of violence in the pursuit of political aims. Similarly, the far right is difficult to conceptualize, but it is loosely understood as involving exclusionary beliefs about superiority and inferiority according to ethnicity, gender, race, religion or sexuality. Thus, far-right terrorists inflict violence influenced by hatred or discrimination towards these so-called “enemies” or “Others” that they perceive as a threat. Clearly, Krajčík’s atrocities are terrorist in nature with his intentional targeting of sexual minorities in the pursuit of his far-right political objectives.
The attack on Tepláreň bar unfortunately comprises one amongst a long string of attacks driven by the same hateful ideology. In 2019, Brenton Tarrant murdered 51 people at two Christchurch mosques, and several months later, Patrick Crusius targeted 23 Hispanic people at an El Paso Walmart. Not long after this, John Earnest attacked Poway synagogue, murdering one woman. Even just this year, Payton Gendron fatally shot ten Black individuals at a supermarket in Buffalo. All of these terrorists published manifestos on the internet prior to their attacks, and all had a significant online presence, frequenting unregulated social media sites like 4chan, 8chan and Telegram. Also, they all share a belief in the conspiracy theory of the “Great Replacement” – the false claim that white people are being systematically replaced by immigrants and non-whites such as Jews, feminists, “multiculturalists”, sexual minorities and other marginalized groups (Southern Poverty Law Center, 2021). Another notable element across these attacks is that they acted as copycats, with each terrorist drawing inspiration from another. Earnest and Gendron both mention Tarrant in their manifestos, expressing that their radicalization began after his attack. Krajčík too discussed his source of inspiration, stating in his manifesto that his “main two inspirations to carry out an operation…were Brenton Tarrant and John Earnest.” He also revealed that he began writing his manifesto after the Buffalo Attack: “Saint Gendron gave me the final nudge, allowing me to overcome my own indecision and begin seriously working towards carrying out an operation.” One wonders when the next horrifying attack against a racial, religious or sexual minority will be.
Homophobia is sadly rife in Slovakia. According to data from the Fundamental Rights Agency of the EU, 77% of homosexual couples in Slovakia are afraid of holding hands in public. Further, one in five transgender and intersex individuals in Slovakia revealed that they were physically or sexually assaulted within the five years of the survey. Slovakia is one of five nations in the EU (others include Romania, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania) where same-sex partnerships are not legally recognized. Slovakia’s political structures have hence largely ignored or been opposed to its LGBTQ+ community. The owner of Tepláreň bar, Roman Samoný, underlined this in an interview with SME: [The LGBTQ+ community] used to go to Tepláreň because it is a refuge for many young people who are looking for solid ground under their feet. They fail to find it elsewhere because this country is not favourable to them. This country systematically rages against them.” Some of the Slovakian public also reacted courageously after the attack with approximately 20,000 people marching across Bratislava condemning hate against the Slovakian LGBTQ+ community. “Many say LGBTQ+ people are an ideology, but I saw the blood of my friends on the pavement. I saw their shot bodies, no ideology” said Samoný.
Attacks of a similar nature are continuing to take place, targeting ethnic, racial and sexual minorities. Much more must be done to counter this growing phenomenon. Politicians must be scrutinized for their discourse that may incite violence or produce hatred toward minority groups. This is significant in Slovakia where just last summer an MP of the nation’s leading party OĽaNO urged to push a ban on rainbow flags on official buildings.
This must be highlighted globally, too. The US Republican party has certainly flirted with the far right, strongly evidenced by the events on January 6th, 2021 where thousands of far-right individuals stormed the Capitol Building. Politicians hold some of the most influential voices on the planet and it is troubling that they can normalize, validate and radicalize far-right extremism. Furthermore, tech platforms must widen their efforts in countering extremism and radicalization on their sites. The international community and tech ecosystem made significant improvements against the Islamic State’s online presence, yet the same deterrence has not been applied to far-right extremism. Forums like 4chan, YouTube, Tik Tok, Reddit and Telegram all have the potential for young people to connect and become radicalized in unchecked echo chambers just as Krajčík did.
It is blatantly clear that young white men are being radicalized to far-right extremism via online platforms. As these growing number of attacks have shown, these men are also being influenced by each other. Their words typed on keyboards have the potential to become very violent realities, which was devastatingly proven yet again by the October 12th attack on Tepláreň bar.
- Iran’s Theocratic Regime Continues To Violate Human Rights - November 17, 2022
- Racially-Motivated Murder Of Child Opens Old Wounds For Australia’s Indigenous Communities - November 6, 2022
- Billionaire Bankrolls Citizen’s Militia In Taiwan - October 22, 2022