New Zealand’s government recently declared that an American far-right group called the Proud Boys is a terrorist organisation, along with a similar group called The Base.
Other groups that have previously been given the same official terrorist designation in the country include Islamic State and the military wing of Hamas.
The designation makes it illegal in New Zealand to fund, recruit or participate in the groups, and obligates authorities to act against them.
The Proud Boys are a far-right neo-fascist organisation known for engaging in political violence in the United States, most notably their involvement in the violent attack on the US Capitol building on January 6, 202.
New Zealand authorities said the Capitol insurrection amounted to an act of terrorism in a 29-page explanation of the group’s terrorist designation.
Just last month, the former leader of the organisation and four others linked to the group were charged with seditious conspiracy, or attempting to prevent the execution of US law.
The indictment alleges that the Proud Boys conspired to forcibly oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power.
The five are scheduled to stand trial later this year in Washington D.C.’s federal court.
While the group is not known to be active in New Zealand, a statement by the government mentioned unlinked but ideologically affiliated chapters of the Proud Boys operating in their neighbouring Australia.
The country has been increasingly sensitive to far-right violence after a white supremacist shot and killed 51 Muslims at two Christchurch mosques in 2019.
In the official designation explanation, New Zealand police also classified the group as practising 'crypto-fascism', meaning they attempt to hide their genuine beliefs from the public to avoid persecution and appeal to a wider group.
The group officially rejects the label of white supremacy and prefers the term 'Western chauvinism'.
Its members flock to events centred around racist and fascist rhetoric, having appeared at extremist gatherings such as the 2017 white supremacist 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
New Zealand is not the first country to label the Proud Boys as a terrorist group, with officials in Canada designating the group in the same category.
The group has also been banned from many mainstream social networks, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
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