Vast majority oppose UKIP leader Nigel Farage's Charlie Hebdo comments on social media

Social media responses to UKIP leader Nigel Farage's comments on the Charlie Hebdo killings were overwhelmingly negative, while reactions to Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg's views were far more favourable, new research shows.

Nigel Farage: Controversial comments on the Paris killings
Nigel Farage: Controversial comments on the Paris killings

Farage linked the fatal shootings, which have been widely attributed to two Islamic extremists, to the "gross policy of multiculturalism". His comments generated 8,000 mentions on social media, 91 per cent of which were negative, according to analysis by Talkwalker. Just 2.9 per cent were positive.

Clegg’s comments attracted six times more positive sentiment, with 17.8 per cent of the 3,000 mentions being favourable – the Deputy Prime Minister made the point that people "must be free to offend".

Social reaction to Farage has been coloured by those who thought his comments were essentially racist while others expressed anger that he was he was using the attacks for political point scoring. Terms such as "dismayed" and "disappointed" were used in reaction to Farage, whereas Clegg’s views were described as "impressive", "powerful" and "fantastic".

Reaction to Prime Minister David Cameron was more confused, with his comments on events in Paris intermixed with opinions surrounding the NHS and election debates, though Wikileaks provoked some discussion when it suggested Cameron was hypocritical in championing free speech while keeping Julian Assange under detention.

The analysis took place over 24 hours from late afternoon on Wednesday, the day of the attack at the Paris office of the satirical magazine, which left 12 people dead including cartoonists and the editor Stephane Charbonnier.

Robert Glaesener, CEO of Talkwalker, said: "None of the party leaders seems to have met with a positive social reception on the events in Paris. That said, Nick Clegg scored 17.8 per cent positive sentiment when none of the other leaders were able to gain more than three per cent, and Nigel Farage came out worst, with an overwhelmingly negative sentiment of 91 per cent."

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