The COVID-19 pandemic is being used by the far right and conspiracy theorists to “advance their movements and ideologies”. This is the conclusion drawn by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD). In its second COVID-19 Disinformation Briefing, the ISD has highlighted that the same groups are also calling for civil war.
Across private Irish social media groups the pandemic has also been linked to conspiracy theories involving 5G.
A “wedge” issue
The ISD revealed that COVID-19 has become “an increasingly important topic within far-right communities”. In fact, the pandemic is being used “opportunistically” by far-right activists and conspiracy theorists. These same groups and individuals are using the virus as a “‘wedge issue’” in order to target minorities and call for violence.
As the ISD points out:
COVID-19 has been seized by far-right groups as an opportunity to call for extreme violence. This includes mobilisation by white supremacist communities as well as the increased prevalence of memes which semi-ironically promote insurrectional violence across a range of social media platforms.
In some cases those promoting violence have advocated turning fellow white supremacists infected with the virus into “bioweapons”. And they have also suggested that extremists “capitalise” on the current crisis by attacking “soft targets such as hospitals”.
Far-right activists and conspiracy theorists in Ireland have attempted to link the COVID-19 pandemic to a power grab by the government. Across private social media pages it’s been argued that the pandemic is part of a wider agenda to allow governments to increase their power. And it’s been declared that the pandemic is merely a cover for the rollout of 5G technology across the country.
On top of this, in some cases it’s been claimed that 5G is linked to the spread of the virus. A study by Hope Not Hate in the UK found that roughly “8% of the British public agree that the rollout of 5G internet is contributing to the spread of coronavirus”. A further 19% said they were “unsure” whether or not there was a link between 5G and COVID-19.
Hope Not Hate also revealed that in the last week there have been nearly two dozen attacks on mobile phone masts in the UK.
Closer to home two telecommunication masts were set on fire in Donegal on Sunday 12 April. Speaking to the Irish Times a garda source they “suspect the fires were started deliberately”.
Scientists have repeatedly argued that there is no link between the technology and the virus. Dr. Jonathan M. Samet, the dean of the Colorado School of Public Health has said the theory “has no credence scientifically”.
Professor Simon Clarke, who specialises in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, told Al Jazeera the idea that 5G technology has caused the pandemic “is complete rubbish”. Going further, he pointed out that:
5G radio signals are electromagnetic waves, very similar to those already used by mobile phones. Electromagnetic waves are one thing, viruses are another, and you can’t get a virus off a phone mast.
Featured image via Pixabay – Visuals3D