‘Researchers have found that organised far-right networks are pushing a conspiracy known as the “great replacement” theory to the extent that references to it online have doubled in four years, with more than 1.5 million on Twitter alone, a total that is rising exponentially.
The theory emerged in France in 2014 and has become a dominant concept of the extreme right, focusing on a paranoia that white people are being wiped out through migration and violence. It received increased scrutiny after featuring in the manifesto of the gunman who killed 51 people in the Christchurch attacks in New Zealand in March.
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Now the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), a UK-based counter-extremist organisation, has found that the once-obscure ideology has moved into mainstream politics and is now referenced by figures including US president Donald Trump, Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini and Björn Höcke of the German Alternative für Deutschland (AfD).
Tweets from Trump earlier this year, for example, were interpreted by many as making a white nationalist case for his controversial border wall.
Despite its French origins, the ISD’s analysis has revealed that the theory is becoming more prevalent internationally, with English-speaking countries now accounting for 33% of online discussion.
Julia Ebner, co-author of the report at ISD, said: “It’s shocking to see the extent to which extreme-right concepts such as the ‘great replacement’ theory and calls for ‘remigration’ have entered mainstream political discourse and are now referenced by politicians who head states and sit in parliaments.”
She said that of the 10 most influential Twitter accounts propagating the ideology, eight were French. The other two were Trump’s account and the extreme-right site Defend Europa…’
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