COVID-19 & The Far Right: Weekly Round Up

Right Response Team - 10 04 20

The movement remains uncertain of who to make their primary target of hate in the current pandemic. On social media outlets anti-East Asian hate remains common while other parts of the movement spread conspiracy theories about both Muslims and Jews.


Former BNP leader Nick Griffin and Patriotic Alternative founder Mark Collett both shared videos on Twitter of Orthodox Jewish people apparently flouting social distancing guidelines in New York this week. Collett appeared saddened that the video wouldn’t provoke as much antisemitic hatred as he’d like, while Griffin chose to imply that Jewish people were somehow exempt from following the rules, despite the very obvious police action taking place throughout the video. The purpose of sharing the video is clear: to attempt to blame the Jewish population as a whole for the actions of an irresponsible minority, a tactic that is also being widely used against Muslims and other minority groups in both the UK and abroad.

Placing the blame

Trump has extended his anti-China narrative to attack the WHO, threatening to withhold funding. He accused them of getting “a lot of things wrong” and being “China-centric”, despite the US providing “a majority of their funding” (actual figure is 15%). He also implied that the organisation might have lied about the virus: “They called it wrong, they could have called it months earlier […] they should have known – and they probably did know – so we’ll be looking into that very carefully”.  The call to defund the WHO mid-pandemic has been taken up promptly by his supporters in the UK and abroad, such as Tommy Robinson ally Avi Yemini, anti-Muslim activist David Vance and Canadian alt-right media outlet Rebel News.

Conspiracy theorist on live TV

Freeview channel London Live gave notorious conspiracy theorist David Icke a platform to spread his theories about Coronavirus on Wednesday night. Ofcom is investigating the 1hr 45min interview, and YouTube deleted a pre-broadcast live-stream on April 7th but only after it had been watched by 65,000 people. London Live, owned by Evening Standard proprietor Evgeny Lebedev, chose to tweet out a particularly provocative segment in which he referenced Israeli companies working with the government on coronaviruses in 2018, strongly implying that they had foreknowledge of the virus.

This promotion of Icke’s conspiratorial and anti-scientific theories could not have come at a more dangerous time. An indication of the susceptibility of conspiracy theory in these uncertain times is the, at least, 20 mobile phone masts that were subject to arson or vandalism in the last week. An outbreak of anti-5G vigilantism fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic. While anti-5G conspiracies have been around since the upgrade was first announced, there has been a huge spike in interest in the topic recently, fuelled in part by celebrities and influencers such as TV presenter Amanda Holden and actor Woody Harrellson expressing their fears about the technology on social media. Far-right figures has also caught on to the trend, UKIP leader Gerard Batten tweeted on Monday that 5G had “never been tested for its effects on humans” and suggested a connection to the covid-19 outbreak.


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