Hatefull Places: Punjab, the epicentre of hate speech in Pakistan – A geospatial analysis of Twitter conversations

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This report used a social media listening tool to detect common hate speech terms targeting different sects and religions in Pakistan. One important finding is that the majority of hate speech in Pakistan occurs in three cities: Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi. Lahore and Rawalpindi, the two largest cities in Punjab province, have together contributed around 45–50 per cent of the entire hate speech output detected. Karachi, which is the largest city of Pakistan, also generates a huge amount of hate speech, especially targeted at the Shi’a community. 

The majority of hate speech against Christians, whose minority population is mainly concentrated in Punjab province, also originates from Punjab. The data indicates that most hate speech is recorded against Shi’a, who comprise the second largest group within Islam after the Sunni majority population. Ahmadis, who identify as Muslims but have been declared non-Muslim by the Constitution of Pakistan, are the second most targeted group in terms of hate speech, most of it originating from Punjab province, especially from the cities of Lahore and Rawalpindi. 

It is not surprising that both Karachi and Lahore are the cities producing the most hate speech because they are also the two largest cities and provincial capitals. Yet Rawalpindi is striking in these geospatial analyses in that it generates a considerable amount of hate speech, far higher in relation to its population than comparably sized cities in Pakistan. The findings of this study point towards the need for further research to understand the reasons behind Rawalpindi’s high level of hate speech targeting religious minorities.

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