It began in the US with lurid claims and a hatred of the ‘deep state’. Now it’s growing in the UK, spilling over into anti-vaccine and 5G protests, fuelled by online misinformation. Jamie Doward examines the rise of a rightwing cult movement. He was desperate and scared and pleading for advice. “It’s integrating itself into soft rightwing timelines and I believe it’s starting to radicalise many. Seeing my mum and nan fall for it unaware is so troubling. I’ve seen it all over Facebook and these people genuinely believe they’re revealing the truth.” It is QAnon, the unfounded conspiracy theory that has gone through countless, bewildering versions since it emerged in the US in 2017 and is now spreading like California’s wildfires across the internet. At its core are lurid claims that an elite cabal of child-trafficking paedophiles, comprising, among others, Hollywood A-listers, leading philanthropists, Jewish financiers and Democrat politicians, covertly rule the world. Only President Trump can bring them to justice with his secret plan that will deliver what QAnon’s disciples refer to as “The Storm” or “The Great Awakening”. Heavy on millennialism and the idea that a reckoning awaits the world, the theory has found fertile ground in the American “alt-right”.
But, unlike many contributors to the QAnoncasualties forum on Reddit, the man concerned about his mother and grandmother was from Britain and he was in despair at how the movement’s ideas were taking hold here. “My mum and grandma have shown me some, quite frankly, terrifying hard-right Facebook posts, calling Black Lives Matter Marxist paedophiles, typical QAnon stuff, however not even advertised as Q,” he explained. What was once dismissed as an underground US conspiracy theory is becoming something more disturbing, more mainstream, more international, more mystical. And the effects of this are now being felt in Britain. This weekend rallies were held in several cities around the country attended by disparate, discrete groups protesting against lockdowns, vaccinations, 5G mobile phone technology and child abuse.
Few of those who turned up at these events would describe themselves as QAnon supporters. Indeed, many have legitimate concerns about the government’s response to the pandemic. But where they overlap with QAnon is in a shared deep distrust of government, an enmity that encourages the cross-pollination of anti-authoritarian ideas in a Britain becoming more fragmented, more angry. “Belief in one conspiracy theory can open the door to many more, and the line between anti-lockdown, anti-5G narratives and QAnon is, to some extent, blurring, for example with some alleging that an evil, child-trafficking cabal is behind the current crisis,” said David Lawrence, a researcher with the antifascist organisation Hope not Hate, which has been monitoring the rise of QAnon in the UK. In London on Saturday, Resist and Act for Freedom, which described itself as “a medic-focused” anti-vaccination rally, was addressed by Kate Shemirani, a nurse suspended from practising by the Nursing and Midwifery Council for being accused of promoting baseless theories about Covid-19, vaccines and 5G. Shemirani has espoused some of the QAnon theories and has described the Covid-19 crisis as a “plandemic scamdemic”. She has described the NHS as “the new Auschwitz” and her online media postings make references to Hitler and the Nazis, an investigation by the Jewish Chronicle has found. A handful of QAnon-inspired banners, such as “We Are Q”, were being held aloft. Others held flags bearing slogans – for example, “Save Our Children” and “Where We Go One We Go All” – that are affiliated to QAnon. Shemirani told the crowd: “Our government has declared war on the people of the UK.” The police, including some on horseback, made several unsuccessful attempts to break up the rally, pushed back by scores of protesters. As they did, the crowd chanted to them: “Choose your side.”

via guardian: ‘Quite frankly terrifying’: How the QAnon conspiracy theory is taking root in the UK

Categories: Rechtsextremismus