What are white supremacist symbols

The okay hand sign is now officially listed as a hate symbol

Brenton Tarrant carried out an extreme right-wing terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019. 51 people died and 50 others were injured. The youngest victim was three years old.

A day later, Tarrant appeared in court. One photo shows him with a waist belt to which his hands are tied. His right hand forms a circle with his thumb and forefinger, the rest of the fingers are splayed - a gesture that in diving and many countries means that everything is okay.

But since 2017 the symbol has also been used in a different context: The three splayed fingers form the letter W, the circle of index finger and thumb a P: WP, the abbreviation for white power, an inhuman ideology that Brenton Tarrant also adheres to.

A sign of hatred

The Anti-Defamating League (ADL) has now added the okay hand sign to its database of hate symbols. The non-governmental organization was founded in the USA in 1913 with the aim of combating defamation of Jews. Today the organization fights all forms of hatred against people. In 2000, the ADL published a so-called hate database in which it lists symbols that are associated with racism or anti-Semitism.

The okay hand sign as a symbol for white power originally started as a joke, the ADL reports. A user of the 4chan forum wrote in February 2017, “We need to flood Twitter and other social media with claims that the okay hand sign is a symbol for white supremacy. “So one wanted to troll leftists and force reactions. Graphics have been uploaded showing how to find the W and P in the hand sign. The users called the action Operation O-KKK, as an allusion to the abbreviation for the Ku Klux Klan.

Also on ze.tt

Whether KKKs, Alt-Rights or White Supremacists: Nazi remains Nazi

From joke to serious

"In the spring and summer of 2017, the reactions to the Okay-Symbol-joke became so widespread that some members of the extreme right intentionally began to use the gesture," writes the ADL. In 2018, the organization still estimated that even in circles of the extreme right, the show of hands was mostly used ironically and to troll leftists and liberals. But a year later, the gesture has lost its ironic: members of the extreme right would seriously use the sign as an expression for white supremacy to use. The organization cites the terrorist Brenton Tarrant as an example of this.

At the same time, the Anti-Defamating League points out that the okay hand sign is still predominantly used in its traditional meaning and that not everyone who shows the hand sign is a supporter of the extreme right. “Only if the show of hands is linked to other clear indicators for white supremacy is used, one can draw this conclusion, ”writes the organization.

Oren Segal, Director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism adds, "There are currently enough occasions where the hand signal is used in a hateful context that it was important for us to add it to the hate database."