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QAnon conspiracist movement emerges in France: Minister Marlene Schiappa

ANI | Updated: Feb 21, 2021 13:30 IST

Paris [France], February 21 (ANI): The French state agency responsible for tackling sectarian movements, MIVILUDES on Saturday raised an alarm over the "very worrying" development of the rise of QAnon, the conspiracist movement, in the country, reported France 24.
Minister for Citizenship Marlene Schiappa commissioned an inquiry by the police and MIVILUDES and expressed, "The development of "new conspiracist groups" on French soil is "very worrying", she told France 3 in January - underlining that the government "has its eye on" QAnon.
MIVILUDES has received some 15 reports over recent weeks raising the alarm about the rise of QAnon in France, reported Le Figaro. The agency described the development of the movement as "highly concerning" in an internal communication seen by the French paper.
The website DeQodeurs is a major French gateway to its world. The site's centrepiece is a big screen at the top of the homepage broadcasting a video titled "We are the people" - which has also garnered more than 57,000 views on YouTube since its publication on January 27, even though the site removed DeQodeurs' dedicated channel in October, reported France 24.
The video opens with a martial drumbeat playing over an image of the US Capitol in black and white, with dark clouds dominating the sky. "You see, my son, I was your age; I wasn't yet 15," the voiceover starts. "The world was a crazy place." An image follows of St. Peter's Square menaced by storm clouds. "But this was only the beginning of the story," the voice continues as the music becomes slower and gentler.
"Some people understood things since the start and they didn't mess around," it carries on. "And here and there you can hear them singing." A photo shows a group of people putting their hands together. A song breaks out, with a chorus saying "we are the people, we are united, nothing on this planet can stop us".
The DeQodeurs website offers links to "information" including articles relaying fake news based on QAnon tropes - such as the baseless claim that in 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was about to release documents proving the existence of a massive paedophile ring in Washington DC. A section titled "armoury" offers videos - including a two-hour-long segment stating falsehoods purporting to provide "absolute proof" that electoral fraud robbed Donald Trump of victory in November's US presidential election, spoken using French translation clumsily superimposed over an American voice.

The main figure behind DeQodeurs is Leonard Sojili, an Albanian national who first emerged on the French internet in 2011, promoting 9/11 conspiracies. Sojili also propagates QAnon theories through the YouTube channel Thinkerview. On this platform, he mixes support for the conspiracy theory with interviews of prominent French figures from across the political spectrum. Thinkerview boasts some 773,000 subscribers.
A more surprising title boosting QAnon is France-Soir. This publication was one of the country's most august broadsheets during the post-war economic and cultural flowering of France's Trentes Glorieuses, publishing articles by the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre and novelist Joseph Kessel. The newspaper closed in 2012 after moving downmarket.
But France-Soir was relaunched four years later as a populist website sometimes trafficking in conspiracy theories, with its last remaining journalists sacked in 2019. Over the past year, the publication went from publishing coronavirus disinformation to publishing fake news to promoting QAnon theories, reported France 24.
Many QAnon proponents have weaved COVID-19 pseudoscience into their fantasy. The popularity of pseudo-documentary Hold-Up shows that Covid disinformation has a big audience in France: It got more than 2.5 million views after its release in November, with several famous faces including iconic actress Sophie Marceau sharing the video.
The film propagates an array of debunked claims, including the notion that a global cabal of elites is using the pandemic to create a totalitarian New World Order - a similar trope to QAnon's belief in a conspiracy of Satan-worshipping paedophiles.
QAnon portrays Trump as a hero waging a secretive war against a cabal of cannibalistic, Satan-worshipping paedophiles.
The anti-vaccine sentiment is relatively widespread in France. An Ipsos poll published in November found that 46 percent of French adults said they would refuse to receive a Covid-19 vaccine - compared to 21 percent in the UK. A 2019 Gallup poll found that one in three French people thought all vaccines are dangerous - the highest proportion of respondents to say so in 144 countries surveyed.
Considering the dangers it poses for France, President Emmanuel Macron's government has ordered a multi-agency inquiry on conspiracist movements scheduled to report back at the end of February, reported France 24. (ANI)