Online Racism Targeting South Asians Skyrockets

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Since January 2023, slurs directed at South Asians on fringe platforms have been rising exponentially, as the community is blamed for “replacing” white people. Meanwhile, the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory once again takes center stage on mainstream platforms.

Warning: This analysis contains highly offensive and potentially triggering language and imagery. Where possible, slur words are marked with asterisks, but in cases where that may make the content unclear, offensive language is cited.

Hate speech against marginalized communities has risen considerably recently, in part due to the rapid spread of racist, anti-LGBTQ+, and antisemitic conspiracy theories, such as the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, and fueled by ongoing world conflicts. One such group targeted by harmful speech are South Asians, a demographic covering India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, who have seen a monumental spike in English-language slurs and hate directed at them on fringe online platforms between January 2023 and January 2024, including on 4chan, Gab, Rumble, the Fediverse, Telegram, Bitchute, and Truth Social. Unfortunately, these numbers are only continuing to grow each month. Bigoted rhetoric existing in the darker corners of the internet have also cascaded onto mainstream platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, indicating a worrying trend that is normalizing bigotry. 

Much of the racism against South Asians seems to be fuelled by the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, which falsely purports that Jews are plotting to “replace” the “native” European populations of countries with non-European immigrants. In much of the hate speech online, South Asians are seen as being imported by Jews into traditionally white countries, meaning both antisemitism and anti-South Asian hatred are rising. Anxieties around losing jobs, the perceived “subversion” of white people, and both distrust and anger towards South Asians who are blamed for these problems are prevalent across platforms. Oftentimes, comments targeting South Asians overlap with other forms of bigotry, such as anti-Muslim, anti-Black, and antisemitism. Antisemitism remains a constant within these comments, with Jews painted as evil masterminds behind “wrongdoings” committed by South Asians. 

Bigotry on the Fringe

On 4chan, a platform notorious for the presence of hate speech and extremism, slurs directed at South Asians more than doubled between January 2023 and 2024, going from 11,427 to 25,420, representing a 122 percent increase. March 2024 saw a 16-month high, with 32,703 instances of extreme hate. Some examples include calling South Asians “pakis” a derogatory term originating in the United Kingdom targeting Pakistanis who immigrated into the country. “Pajeet” is also used, referring to a derogatory made-up Indian name originating on 4chan in 2015, along with several other similar, though sometimes lesser known, racist terms. Plenty of commenters resented “pajeet immigrants,” described as “barely literate third worlder[s],” for “replac[ing]” striking workers in the tech industry. One Canadian user on the /pol/ board claimed the “jeet situation” in Canada was bad, and that they planned to “leave this dump” because of South Asian immigrants.

The number of posts targeting South Asians on 4chan has more than doubled since January 2023 (Source: GPAHE)

Gab, a “free speech” platform with a similar interface to Twitter, saw hate speech against South Asians rise from 197 posts in January 2023 to 691 the next year, representing a staggering 251 percent increase. Comments include calling South Asians “pajeet chimps” and “paki scum” while leaning into derogatory stereotypes such as saying “pajeet still smell.” Other comments advocated “kick[ing] out every K*ke, Muslim, Paki and N****r,” referring to “Great Replacement” rhetoric that they are all being “import[ed]” by “NGOs,” that the poster alleged were run by Jewish people. The “importing” of immigrants by Jewish-run organizations or governments is a core tenet of the conspiracy theory, as it allows racists to demonize all immigrants as perpetrators of “replacement,” and Jews for supposedly facilitating it. The comment finished by saying, “If the veterans could see what [Great Britain] has become they would have joined Hitler.” Notably, several comments with slurs were replying to a post by British neo-Nazi Mark Collett, including one calling British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak a “little paki rat that has been illegally inserted into the position of Prime Minister.”

The number of posts targeting South Asians on Gab has increased over 250 percent since 2023 (Source: GPAHE)

Hateful comments made on the video platform Rumble, which was the official host of the Republican primary debates, went from one to 34 from January 2023 to 2024, a huge percentage increase. Even more concerning is the continued growth of hate speech directed at South Asians on the platform, as April saw a 16-month high of 64 hateful comments. This represents an 88 percent increase from January 2024, and an astonishing 6,300 percent increase from January 2023. One user was disgusted at the idea of a “pajeet promoting racemixing with whites,” and followed up with a conspiratorial thought: “If you’re going to try and subvert at least be like the Jews and less obvious about it. Freaking street shi***** man.” The idea of “subverting” white people is also reminiscent of the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, as it refers to removing white people from existence, also referred to as “white genocide.” Other racist commenters described New Delhi, the capital city of India, as “stinky.” 

Commenters also targeted South Asian politicians. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was called a “pajeet installed by the international Jewish money lenders.” In July 2023, leading up to the first Republican Primary debate, former Republican Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, born in Cincinnati, Ohio, was targeted as a “pajeet foreigner with foreign alliances” who will “stab White Americans in the back if they vote for him.” The same comment followed up with a call to action for their fellow bigots: “NO MINORITIES IN FEDERAL POSITIONS.”

The number of comments targeting South Asians on Rumble has increased an astronomical 3000 percent plus since 2023, growing even further since January 2024 (Source: GPAHE)

On Telegram, a social media network known for platforming far-right extremist groups such as neo-Nazi Active Clubs and the white nationalist German group, Identitäre Bewegung (Identitarian Movement), hateful messages directed towards South Asians rose from 25 in January 2023 to 455 in January 2024, representing an astronomical 1,720 percent increase. As it is impossible to scrape every post made on every Telegram channel since many are private, this likely represents only a small percentage of the total number of such posts. Comments were blatantly racist, saying such things as “sandeeps and pajeet wallah wakbars…still liv[ing] in the Stone Age,” and despising the very idea of a “jeet sitting near to me on my table.” Others were violent, like those saying “just seeing a jeet makes me violent,” “hope they beat the shit out of that jeet,” and calling for “total pajeet death,” a phrase born from the disgusting term “TND,” which stands for “total n***** death.” Consistent with every other platform, users on Telegram alluded to the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory by claiming that “GB (Great Britain) at his (sic) point is a Paki/Bangladeshi/Indian colony,” and that “most truck drivers in Canada are Pajeets” who “wreak havoc on the roads.” 

Racists celebrated the resignation of Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf as leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in late April, referring to him as a “Paki c***” and a “grotesque Paki.”

The number of posts targeting South Asians on Telegram has increased around 1,700 percent since 2023 (Source: GPAHE)

Telegram is also home to many far-right influencers, movements, and organizations spreading their hateful rhetoric. One such influencer is Canadian military veteran Jeremy Mackenzie, the de-facto leader of the white supremacist movement Diagolon currently charged with criminal harassment, mischief, making harassing phone calls and intimidation of a health professional during an anti-vaxx protest in 2022. Unsurprisingly, Mackenzie pushes hate against South Asians to his 4,000 followers. For example, he shared footage of an Indian military exercise where parachutes failed to deploy, and followed up with a voice note where he laughed hysterically at their injuries. Mackenzie also shared a screenshot of a message on Telegram directed at another user, talking about how Peterborough, Ontario, is apparently filled with “Indian pajeets who arrived last year in the thousands,” before adding his own thoughts, calling for his followers to “tribe and train,” a slogan often used by the neo-Nazi Active Clubs, whose members in Canada have been connected to the deadly neo-Nazi terrorist organization Atomwaffen Division. He also shared a post calling for “first world countries…to quarantine India,” otherwise Indians will “colonize every first world country.” Concerns of being “colonized” by South Asians is a rapidly growing conspiracy amongst the far right, and fits perfectly within the scope of the “Great Replacement,” signifying a shift in rhetoric around their perceived “replacers.”

De-facto leader of Diagolon, Jeremy Mackenzie, posts about “put[ting] and end” to “Indian pajeets who arrived last year in the thousands” (Source: Telegram)

On Donald Trump’s platform Truth Social, slurs against South Asians rose from 13 in January 2023 to 47 in January 2024, signifying a 261 percent increase. Hateful posts and comments on Truth Social include decrying Pakistan as a “CIA run Paki Gov[ernment],” calling for the Irish government to “grow some balls and kick them out of your country,” and blaming Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs, a common scapegoat of the far right, for Pakistanis being in the tech industry, saying “the entire tech department at AT&T is fundamentally run by immigrant muslim males, mostly from Pakistan, with the remainder made up of asian males and foreign contractors, who are supplied by the relatives of the paki muslims. it’s a truth in AT&T that everyone knows this, but nothing is done. Blackrock ESG/DEI/Globalism at work.”

The number of posts targeting South Asians on Truth Social has increased around 260 percent since 2023, with a massive spike in July 2023 (Source: GPAHE)

On the video-sharing platform Bitchute, hateful comments rose from 194 in January 2023 to 264 the next year, representing a 36 percent increase. Hate towards South Asians on Bitchute peaked at 513 comments in October 2023, at the same time as the Hamas attacks on Israel. Hateful comments have included “just take a dump in the bushes already you weirdo paki hindu fucks,” and calling South Asians “docile deformed Paki(s) who should ‘go home.’” One violent comment, directed at a content creator, praised him for not being “a n***** and hav[ing] self control” because the commenter “would’ve lost [his] shit” at a “stupid ass pajeet.” Another user, describing themselves as a “soldier of the white race,” directing their comment at “n*****, shitskin[s] and pajeet[s],” said to “wipe them from this planet.” 

The number of comments targeting South Asians on Bitchute has increased around 36 percent since 2023 (Source: GPAHE)

On the Fediverse, short for “federated universe,” which is a “collection of community owned, ad-free, decentralized, and privacy-centric social networks,” including the hate-infested Poast forums, hate speech targeting South Asians rose starting from January 2024. The number of hateful posts skyrocketed this year from 57 in January 2024 to 449 in April, representing a shocking 686 percent increase over four months. Comments included calling former Scotland First Minister Humza Yousaf the “Paki Overlord of Scotland,” and a “fu**** up Paki piece of sh**.” Others showed their disgust towards South Asians, saying “I think I’m starting to hate pajeets more than n*****s. I’ve met n*****s I can tolerate, haven’t meet (sic) a pajeet I didn’t want to get away from as quickly as possible,” and “I laugh at the pajeet n***** couples. Like, you’d think Indians would be racist enough to know what n*****s are.”  

The number of posts targeting South Asians on the Fediverse has increased almost 700 percent since January 2024 (Source: GPAHE)

Hate Enters the Mainstream

On mainstream platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, hate directed at South Asians has become a common occurrence. In most cases, hate speech on these platforms is done without the use of slurs, as both operate under Meta’s definition of hate speech, which includes “harmful stereotypes” and “content that describes or negatively targets people with slurs, where slurs are defined as words that inherently create an atmosphere of exclusion and intimidation against people on the basis of a protected characteristic.” However, the term “pajeet” doesn’t seem to be recognized as a slur by Meta, so hateful posts and groups using the slur run rampant on the platform. Meta has also failed to take down posts advocating for violence against South Asians and Jews alike.

On Facebook, accounts like “Revolt Against Pajeetism” (4,300 followers) are rife with hate speech targeting South Asians, and in many cases, Jews as well. For example, the profile picture used for this page is an edited image of the rabidly antisemitic “Happy Merchant” to resemble their image of an Indian person. The “Happy Merchant” is a grossly antisemitic caricature of a Jewish person originating from racist cartoonist Nick Bougas, who was affiliated with Klansman and former leader of the American White Aryan Resistance, Tom Metzger.

The Facebook page “Revolt Against Pajeetism’s” profile picture is an edited version of the antisemitic “Happy Merchant” caricature, made to resemble an Indian instead (Source: Facebook)

The account has also posted AI-generated racist imagery resembling the video game Fallout 4 (Read our reporting on how racists have co-opted the Fallout series here), but made to be situated in New Delhi, the capital of India, rather than a post-apocalyptic Boston, Massachusetts. The city is made out to be excessively dirty, run down, filled with large amounts of feces, and with “0% hygiene” by the content creator. It is unclear which AI-model was used to generate these images. Racism proliferated by AI and spread online continues to be a major issue, and the recent targeting of South Asians is no exception.

An AI-generated image shared on Facebook portrays New Delhi as a post-apocalyptic wasteland with “0% hygiene” (Source: Facebook)

There are also Facebook groups, such as “Active Pajeet’s verse (sic) Abdu’s Warzone” (228 members), which exists as a place for members to participate in “online meme warfare,” a term used by racists and extremist groups which involves spreading racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ+, and antisemitic messages through “memes” (i.e., images, videos or text online meant to be humorous). Memes targeting Indians are widespread on Facebook, such as one violently racist meme made by a user calling themselves “Julius Caesar,” shared in a group with almost 190,000 members denoting Indians, particularly Hindus, as being controlled by Jews, and implying that Christians and Muslims should kill them both. The targeting of marginalized groups within India, such as Muslims and Christians, by Hindu supremacists has created frictions between these communities which racists have co-opted in order to spread their hateful agendas, leading to the callous spread of violent memes such as this one. The antisemitic “Happy Merchant” caricature is used to portray both Hindus and Jews, while Muslims and Christians are portrayed using the “Chad” meme, which is meant to be flattering in contrast.  The comments section was filled with more hatred targeting South Asians, such as users claiming Indians prefer to defecate on railway tracks rather than toilets, and implying that India is best known for “rape and streetshitting.” Notably, there were also antisemitic comments, including one linking to a speech made by Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher discussing the “Jewish Question,” a term used by antisemites and white nationalists to imply that the existence of a Jewish population within their national territory is a “question” that needs addressing, meaning genocide.

A violently racist post made by “Julius Caesar,” and shared on a large Facebook group promotes the killing of Jews and Hindus by Muslims and Christians (Source: Facebook)

On Meta’s other social media platform, Instagram, racism directed at South Asians manifests largely in the comment sections. In one video posted by “brownasianuk” of Paul Golding, leader of “Britain First,” a neo-fascist political party reported to have members who have plotted “large-scale” attacks against Muslims, wishing people a “Happy Ramadan,” one commenter demonstrated his belief in the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory by claiming that “[open] borders” have “allowed the country to be taken over.”  

A user on Instagram claims the United Kingdom is being “taken over” by South Asians due to politicians “open[ing] the borders.” (Source: Instagram)

Racism against South Asians in Canada is welldocumented, and the way it manifests on Instagram is reflective of racist attitudes also seen on fringe websites. Comment sections feature racist comments like saying Indian “accents make my ears bleed” and “IT just means scammer.” Numerous comments seem to be based on the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, with commenters saying “Stop making Canada India,” “Welcome to CANINDIA,” “Toronto is not Toronto anymore,” and calls to “send them back,” a reference to the “Great Replacement”-inspired idea of “remigration,” which involves the forced deportation of people of non-European descent. 

Racists on Instagram react to a video of Indians in Canada (Source: Instagram)

Social media companies have a responsibility to prevent the spread of harmful speech on their platforms through the enforcement of their content moderation policies. With the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory being spread by mainstream politicians, including in the United States, leaders of hate groups, and now commonplace amongst commenters on social media, action must be taken against a concept that’s resulted in multiple mass shootings and hate crimes, like a mass murder committed against a Pakistani family in Canada in 2021. The more this conspiracy theory is allowed to fester and spread, the more likely additional terrorism acts will happen inspired by it.

718 644 Global Project Against Hate and Extremism
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