The “Great Replacement” conspiracy: How the perceived ousting of Whites can evoke violent extremism and Islamophobia

Obaidi, Milan; Kunst, Jonas; Ozer, Simon; Kimel, Sasha Y.
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations

Increased immigration and demographic changes have not only resulted in political pushback, but also in violent attacks against immigrants. Several recent terrorist attacks committed by White supremacists invoke rhetoric around a deliberate attempt to make Whites extinct and replace them with non-Western immigrants. Yet, while it is widely acknowledged among extremism researchers that this perception of orchestrated extinction or replacement has tremendous potential to lead to violent extremism, its consequences have not yet been directly examined. Using the Scandinavian context (e.g., Denmark and Norway), in two correlational studies and one experiment, we provide evidence that this perception is associated with the persecution of Muslims, violent intentions, and Islamophobia. Further, we demonstrate that these associations are mediated by symbolic threats. Conspiracy beliefs that one?s group is being replaced seem to drive hostile intergroup attitudes. We discuss the societal implications of this finding (i.e., generating fear, polarization, and hostile public opinion towards immigrants).