explainer

Who is Candace Owens? The woman named by the Christchurch gunman.

Mamamia has chosen not to show the face of the man in custody for the Christchurch terror attack, or to include or link to any distressing material about his acts. Instead, we are dedicated to remembering the names, faces and stories of the victims.

For 24-hour mental health crisis support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Hours before Australian-born gunman Brenton Tarrant killed 49 people and injured dozens more in what was New Zealand’s biggest mass shooting in history, he posted a 37-page manifesto onto his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Among the incoherent and hate-filled ramblings, Tarrant credits a woman named Candace Owens as the person who “influenced [him] above all”.

“Each time she spoke I was stunned by her insights and her own views helped me push further and further into the belief of violence over meekness,” he wrote of the US-based, pro Trump, conservative political commentator.

“Though I will have to disavow some of her beliefs, the extreme actions she calls for me are too much, even for my tastes.”

 

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Outwork your opponents.

A post shared by Candace Owens (@realcandaceowens) on

Although she can be no way held responsible for what Tarrant allegedly chose to do on March 15, who is Candace Ownens? And what does she have to do with anything?

This is everything we know so far.

Who is Candace Owens?

Candance Owens is a 29-year-old conservative political activist who is known for her outspoken views which she shares on social media.

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Described by the Atlanta Black Star as the “Black face of Trump’s conservative America,” she’s spoken out against the Black Lives Matter campaign and founded the #blexit movement which asks for black American people to stop supporting the US Democratic Party.

She currently has over 1.13 million Twitter followers, with an additional 534,000 followers on Instagram, and is the Director of Communications for Turning Point USA – a right-wing, not-for-profit, youth organisation which aims to promote the values of “fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government”.

Her conservative views have also been praised by rapper Kanye West when he came out in support of US president Donald Trump, however, according to a tweet from October, 2018, he’s since distanced himself from her politics.

 

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I love the way Candace Owens thinks.

A post shared by Candace Owens (@realcandaceowens) on

Earlier this year in February, Owens was condemned for condoning the actions of German dictator, Adolf Hitler, while giving a talk on nationalism – in which she says she “doesn’t have an issue with [it]”.

“When we say nationalism, the first thing people think about, at least in America, is Hitler. He was a national socialist,” she said.

“If Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, okay, fine.

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“The problem was that he had dreams outside Germany. He wanted to globalise.

Why did Brenton Tarrant reference Candace Owens?

While this question can only answered by Tarrant himself, there are similarities in both his and Owen’s views on nationalism and immigration.

In his manifesto – which Mamamia will not link due to its distressing and racist overtones – Tarrant lists his motivations for committing his attacks as “to directly reduce immigration rates to European lands by intimidating and physically removing the invaders themselves.”

He also writes: “To most of all show the invaders that our lands will never be their lands.”

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Although Owens doesn’t regularly make reference to people of the Muslim faith, she has shared tweets in which she expresses concern in a growing Muslim population in Europe.

As reported by San Francisco-based publication, SF Gate, she shared this tweet in November, 2018:

“If France wants to build an army to defend itself against anything, it ought to be the declining birth rate of its people. All signs indicate that it will be a Muslim majority country in just 40 years!” she wrote.

In July 2018, she also publicly quoted former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was internationally condemned for his human rights abuses.

How has Candace Owens responded to the Christchurch shootings?

While Owens cannot logically be associated with the actions of Tarrant, she has attracted negative criticism for her response on social media, in which she refuted any claims that she could have “inspired” the attacks.

Many Twitter users spoke out against her using a ‘laughing / crying emoji’ and the word, ‘LOL,’ which they deemed as insensitive.

“This is a serious situation deserving of solemnity and not emojies,” wrote one user, with many others sharing their sentiment.

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Despite this, Owens has since made a statement to Business Insider, rejecting the idea that her “black conservatism” is linked to “radical Islamophobic white supremacy terror overseas.”

“What happened last night in Christchurch, New Zealand is a tragedy and I echo the sentiment of all Americans, in wishing love and healing for all those impacted,” she wrote.

“That said, any insinuation that black conservatism in the United States has somehow inspired radical Islamophobic white supremacy terror overseas is pointedly absurd.

“People on both sides of the political aisle-especially the victims-deserve a more honest conversation.”

For 24-hour mental health crisis support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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