IMPACT: Austrian Martin Sellner is a proponent of the far-right Great Replacement conspiracy theory and leader of the Austrian chapter of Generation Identity, a far-right white nationalist anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim movement originating in Europe.
Martin Sellner is the leader of Identitären Bewegung (Identitarian Movement), also referred to as Generation Identity, in Austria, which he co-founded in 2012. A 2018 article in the BBC dubbed him the “poster boy for the Europe-wide Identitarian movement.”
The Identitarian Movement is a far-right, white nationalist movement originating in France that opposes non-white immigration, primarily Muslim, as they claim it threatens Europe’s identity and will replace the white native population. Author and researcher Natasha Strobl, states: “They paint refugees as invaders, as dangerous soldiers of Islam who come here to destroy Europe. Strobl noted that the “most well-known figure of the neo-Nazis, Gottfried Küssel, was [Sellner’s] mentor.” Küssel is a Holocaust-denier and was released from jail in January 2019. The Austrian intelligence agency BVT characterizes the Identitarian Movement as racist and nationalist.
In a 2016 interview with The Huffington Post, Sellner warned that “Muslims could be in the majority [in Europe] soon,” and viewed this as a “danger.” Sellner’s solution is to “close the borders,” and stop immigration, and force immigrants and Muslims already in Europe to leave. Sellner speaks of an inevitable future of “Islamization” that has to be stopped. In a June 2015 video, Sellner calls on patriots to rally on the streets to “fight for their future.”
Sellner once belonged to a Neo-Nazi group. In April 2019, the BBC reported Sellner “had admitted to police in 2006 that he and a companion stuck a swastika poster on a synagogue in the town of Baden bei Wien.”
In August 2017, Young Independence (YI), the youth wing of the right-wing UKIP party, invited Sellner to speak at their annual conference in the United Kingdom. However, two venues canceled their booking to host the conference due to pressure from city councilors and opposition activists, as well as fear of protests.
Sellner’s fiancée is American far-right vlogger and conspiracy theorist, Brittany Pettibone. The British anti-racist organization, Hope not Hate, found that Pettibone has propagated the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory (which led to a shooting), and continues to use her platforms to spread the “white genocide” conspiracy.
In March 2018, both Sellner and Pettibone were banned from entering the UK as the Home Office declared that when “the purpose of someone’s visit to this country is to spread hatred, the Home Office can and will stop them entering Britain.” Canadian far-right activist, Lauren Southern, was also barred from the U.K. as she intended to enter to interview anti-Muslim personality and co-founder of the far-right English Defence League (EDL), Tommy Robinson. Sellner, Pettibone, and Southern have appeared in numerous videos together raising fears about Muslim immigration and threats to white identity. Their interaction highlights the transatlantic collaboration of far-right social media personalities.
After Sellner was banned from the U.K., Fox News host Tucker Carlson issued an “impassioned defense” of the Austrian far-right figure on his show.
Following their deportation from the U.K, Sellner and Pettibone were interviewed by Robinson in Austria in March 2018. Sellner stated, “I think it’s very telling that the U.K. is opening its borders for all types of people, letting radical Islam grow within its borders but it’s shutting its borders down for dissenting opinions.” He asserts, “Western democracies are becoming more and more totalitarian as they’re becoming Islamized and turning more multicultural.”
In 2017, GI chartered a ship, with funds raised on an American crowdfunding website, with the intent of targeting NGO’s that patrol the Mediterranean sea and rescue refugees and migrants. It called its efforts, “Defend Europe.” Sellner led the project, stating, “Defend Europe is the only way to secure the European borders and to stop the drowning in the sea.” GI stated it would arrest refugees and migrants, return them to North Africa, and sink their boats. The campaign was supported by former-KKK leader David Duke, who tweeted out the link to the fundraising page, and the neo-Nazi website, The Daily Stormer. Defend Europe raised over $158,000, surpassing its original aim of $80,000.
Sellner promoted his “Defend Europe” mission during a July 2017 appearance on RT. He claimed that Europe’s policy of “open borders” would lead to a “catastrophe” because “immigration is destroying Europe.” During the show he called for implementing the Australian “no-way policy,” and proclaimed that open borders would lead to “population replacement and our culture and our democracy will not survive.” He referred to immigration from Africa to Europe as a “great migration, the exodus, and the great replacement.” He closed his argument by stating that “immigration without assimilation becomes an invasion” and that the last thing Europe needs is a “huge influx of young men with no skills but a high potential for political and religious violence.”
In a 2017 video published on his YouTube account, Sellner claims that France is targeted by terrorism because it has a “huge Islamic fundamentalistic parallel society,” and the only way to get rid of terrorism is to get rid of these “parallel societies.” He claims that “Islamic terrorism is an essential part of Islamization of the West,” explaining that “good Muslims” are “working together with the permanent omnipresent threat of radical terrorist Islam.” Sellner claims that “good Muslims” do this by demanding an “appeasement policy… to give them the rights…allow them to wear headscarves…basically peacefully hand over our society to them.” He calls this “Islamization” a “symptom of the great replacement,” calling the Muslim population in the West a “terrorist zerg rush,” claiming it’s a “strategy often used by invasions and invaders against Europe.” He claims “there are some Muslims who are prone to terrorism” and are “ticking timebombs,” and thus the risk of a “Muslim terrorist attack” rises in countries that have a “high amount of Muslims.”
A 2017 undercover report on the resurgence of the far-right by ITV shows Sellner at a conference stating that the “problem is called the Great Replacement. It’s a combination of our low birth rates and of mass immigration and it will lead to a complete replacement of our population within a few decades.” Later on, at a secret meeting, the narrator says Sellner claims he has contact with American white supremacists and anti-Semites. Sellner goes on to discuss the “Jewish question” of the 1920s and says it is comparable to “Islamic immigration today.”
In March 2019, Austrian authorities raided Sellner’s home after discovering he had received a donation of nearly $1700 in 2018 from the Christchurch mosque gunman, Brenton Tarrant. Buzzfeed News reported that Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz confirmed the “link between the New Zealand attacker and the Identitarian Movement in Austria.” Tarrant’s 74-page manifesto, titled “The Great Replacement,” the central idea for Generation Identity, revealed an ideological connection to Sellner, as Tarrant called Muslims “invaders” and warned about that mass immigration of Muslims would replace white identity and culture. Tarrant had also donated money to another two branches of the GI in France. After the Christchurch terrorist attack, Sellner tweeted: “The perpetrator of Christchurch wants to blow up the demographic bomb we are sitting on. The mainstream just denies it. The Identitarians want to defuse it.”
In May 2019, the Daily Beast noted that Austrian and German news outlets reported that “Sellner had exchanged emails with Tarrant until at least July 2018, and that both men invited each other to their respective countries.” The Austrian broadcaster ORF reported that Sellner deleted the emails a “few hours before” the raid on his house. This “revelation prompted a leader of Austria’s Social Democrat party to question whether Sellner received a tip-off about the raid.” The article in the Daily Beast noted that Sellner is “currently attempting to move to the U.S.” to marry Pettibone.
In April 2018, Hope not Hate reported Sellner “took part in an action near the French-Italian border where fellow far-right activists blocked a mountain pass in protest at the rise in migrants crossing the Alps.” A video of the action was posted by Pettibone and shows the massive banner that was laid out on the mountains telling refugees and migrants to go “back to your homeland.”
During a 2018 march to the Kahlenberg in Vienna, where the historical 1683 battle against the Ottomans had taken place, Sellner used standard anti-Muslim tropes when he spoke of “systematic rape of women and killing of children…Women, girls, who could be our daughters are raped. Women, who could be my grandmother are raped.”
In May 2018, Sellner along with 16 other “members and sympathizers” of the Identitarian Movement was arrested and charged with a number of offenses. In response, Sellner told Al Jazeera the charges were “a severe act of repression,” stating the government is seeking to “criminalize patriotic protest,” and claimed, “We are criticizing the Islamisation of Europe.”
Sellner has additionally participated in rallies and protest marches by fellow nationalist organizations in neighboring countries. Sellner delivered speeches at the 2017 rally in Dresden, Germany organized by PEGIDA, a far-right anti-Muslim movement in Germany.
In April 2016, Sellner along with other identitarians staged a protest in Graz, Austria against the “creeping Islamization of Europe,” and scaled the roof of the Austrian Green Party HQ unfurling a banner stating “Islamization Kills.” Sellner stated the party’s “policy imported terrorism…They have blood on their hands and now we put blood on their roof.” In April 2016, Sellner along with other members of the Identitarian movement stormed the stage at the University of Vienna during a play performed by asylum-seekers from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. An article in Al Jazeera reported GI members sprayed fake blood and threw fliers proclaiming “multiculturalism kills.”
Sellner took part in a video announcement for the “Day for Freedom” campaign organized by Tommy Robinson to protest against “social media giant Twitter over free speech.” The video involved a number of far-right personalities, including Pettibone, Southern, and former Breitbart London executive, Raheem Kassam.
Last updated: May 16, 2019