Which myths about Pakistan disturb you

From the aluminum bobble to the forced vaccination : What the current conspiracy myths mean

Aluminum pompom:
At the demonstrations against the restrictions in the corona crisis, participants wear a ball made of aluminum foil on a ribbon around their necks or lapels. This identification mark is reminiscent of the “aluminum hat”, which, according to some conspiracy theorists, is supposed to protect the wearer's head from harmful radiation or even from the control of thoughts by dark forces. In common parlance, the “aluminum hat” has long since become a derogatory term for those who believe in conspiracies. This is what the inventors of the aluminum bobble are picking up on. The ear, nose and throat doctor Bodo Schiffmann, who is one of the founders of the "Resistance 2020" movement, has published handicraft instructions for the aluminum bobble on YouTube and explains its purpose as follows: "I am a lateral thinker, I don't wear my aluminum on the head. I use my head to think. ”The“ Querdenkerbommel ”is supposed to be an ironic quote from the aluminum hat. But it does not stop at this symbolic level, and there can be no question of a clear demarcation from conspiracy theorists. Those who carry the ball made of crumpled up aluminum foil and thus protest against the corona measures are also adopting conspiracy-theoretical patterns in some cases.

Federal Republic of Germany GmbH:
In the past few weeks, Reich citizens who do not recognize the Federal Republic as a state have mixed with the demonstrators. They believe that the German Reich will continue to exist and see themselves as its citizens. The Federal Republic of Germany is a company, a GmbH - and the Chancellor is only its managing director. As is so often the case with conspiracy myths, their supporters try to use facts that seem to prove their crude theories: The citizens of the Reich refer to a company actually registered in the commercial register, the "Federal Republic of Germany - Finanzagentur GmbH". But there is a completely normal explanation for this: It is a federal company that is responsible as the central service provider for borrowing. Just how dangerous conspiracy myths can be is shown by the citizens of the Reich: Because they do not recognize the state, at least some of them tend to use armed force against the representatives of this state. In addition, some of the citizens of the Reich are openly right-wing extremists. According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, there are around 19,000 Reich citizens in Germany.

Deep State:
Anyone who sees a "deep state" at work in the USA or a European country believes that intelligence agents, military and civil servants have secretly allied to take power in the respective state. Like many conspiracy theories, this also has links in the real world: In the recent history of Turkey, the military has put up several coups, in this context there is actually talk of the “deep state”. In a country like Pakistan, too, the military and the secret service have been pulling the strings behind the scenes for decades. In the United States, however, the “Deep State” has become a conspiracy-theoretically connotated battle term since US President Donald Trump took office. Trump's supporters claim the intelligence and security agencies are working against the president and wanting to overthrow him. Until Trump took office, another political camp was discussing secret services that allegedly had a life of their own: the US whistleblower Edward Snowden had popularized the topic with the American and European left.

Gates, Bill:
In the corona crisis, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has become the number one enemy of conspiracy believers. Based on a well-known slogan of the fight against AIDS, demonstrators in Germany take to the streets with signs that read: “Don't give gates a chance”. There are currently numerous myths surrounding the person of the billionaire. His foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is the main private donor to the World Health Organization (WHO) and also supports the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi) and companies that develop vaccines, such as the German company Curevac. But what do the conspiracy theorists do with these facts about Gates ’commitment to health? Gates wants to vaccinate the entire world population and let people use microchips to control them, it is said, for example. Others claim the billionaire wants to use the vaccinations to decimate the world's population. In Gates’ image of the enemy, there is also the classic conspiracy-theoretical story of the small globalized elite who secretly want to take over the world.

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Secret Organizations:
The secret society belongs to the classic repertoire of conspiracy theorists. Stories about such groups have always fascinated many people. This is exactly what the conspiracy myths tie in with. Around organizations like the Freemasons or the actually historically documented Order of Illuminati, they let the story of a great, evil power entwine, which to this day pull the strings in the background and strive for world domination. This narrative is also usually charged with anti-Semitism. As absurd as such stories may seem at first glance, the susceptibility to this type of conspiracy myths is generally great in Germany: In the “Mitte Study” by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation 2019, 46 percent of those surveyed stated that there are secret organizations influencing political events.

Children's blood:
The story sounds like something out of a really bad movie: Children are held prisoner underground, tortured and ultimately killed just to extract the substance adrenochrome from their blood, which is supposed to serve as a rejuvenating agent for a small elite. This horror story is spread in Germany, for example, by the singer Xavier Naidoo, who has long since gone under the conspiracy theorists, and the rapper Sido defended the strange statements. In fact, it is a conspiracy myth that is carried on in the circles of QAnon fans, especially in the USA. But this story has ancient roots - and clear anti-Semitic echoes. As early as the 13th century, Jews were accused of using the blood of Christian children for religious purposes or as a medicine. This bizarre story is a variant of the ancient anti-Jewish ritual murder legend.

QAnon:
In October 2017, the Internet forum 4chan, which is preferred by right-wing extremists, published a post signed by a “patriot” with “Security approval Q”. This term is used in the US Department of Energy, so the anonymous writer wanted to create the impression that he was an insider and had access to classified information. But who is behind the anonymous whispering "Q" is still unclear. The term QAnon (composed of Q and Anonymous) is a broad conspiracy myth according to which a global elite controls governments and banks and is pursuing a secret plan to overthrow US President Donald Trump. According to this crude story, the masterminds are supposed to control an international ring of pedophiles and child traffickers at the same time. With this, Trump is stylized as a fighter not only against the "Deep State", but against absolute evil. This conspiracy myth also has anti-Semitic traits, recognizable by age-old stereotypes such as the world conspiracy, which allegedly centers on George Soros. QAnon is said to have tens of thousands of followers in the United States, and when President Trump appeared in the audience, "Q" signs were seen. Even some Republican politicians are believed to be supporters of the conspiracy myth and have made public positive comments. In Oregon, the Republicans nominated the politician Jo Rae Perkins for the Senate, who says of herself: "I stand by Q and the team."

Cell towers (5G):
At the beginning of April, the World Health Organization (WHO) felt compelled to make an unusual statement: "5G mobile networks do NOT spread COVID-19." Viruses could not be transmitted in this way. But by that time the corresponding conspiracy myth had already established itself in numerous countries. Accordingly, the corona virus is spreading in the regions in which the new cellular standard already exists. In another variant of this conspiracy theory, it is even claimed that the pandemic does not exist at all - it only serves to cover up a “5G syndrome”. Supporters of this crude theory deliberately ignore the fact that the new type of corona virus also spread in countries where 5G does not even exist. This conspiracy myth can be linked to widespread reservations about this technology: Almost every second person in Germany fears radio masts as a source of electromagnetic radiation, according to a study by the industry association Bitkom. At the same time, the example of 5G shows how dangerous such conspiracy myths are - and how violent their supporters are: In Great Britain and the Netherlands there have already been numerous attacks on cell phone masts.

[All current developments as a result of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here in our news blog. We will keep you up to date on developments in Berlin in particular.]

New World Order (NWO):
In the middle of the 20th century, the concept of the new world order was mainly used by those in politics, media and science who reflected on the lessons of the two world wars, the future balance of power between the great powers and the benefits of international cooperation. But in 1991 a book was published in the USA with the title "The New World Order". The author, the influential evangelical preacher Pat Robinson, claimed there was a secret international conspiracy - sponsored by banks, Freemasons, Illuminati and other groups - to establish a world government which would then be led by the Antichrist. The book became a bestseller in the United States and thus contributed to the spread of this conspiracy myth, which has strong anti-Semitic traits. In the corona crisis, there is now again talk of the "New World Order", the allegedly imminent takeover of power by a global elite. Conspiracy believers even had a specific date on which the NWO should begin, May 15. As expected, nothing happened.

Star, yellow:
At several demonstrations against the Corona measures, participants wore a yellow star with the words "not vaccinated". In this way, the opponents of the vaccination equate themselves with the Jews persecuted in Nazi Germany, who were forced to wear a yellow star. They stylize themselves as a minority threatened by a criminal state - and thus indirectly as victims of a conspiracy. By wearing the yellow star, the demonstrators play down the persecution of the Jews and ultimately the Holocaust. This is by no means a random faux pas when choosing a catchy demo symbol: because at the same demonstrations, conspiracy myths are voiced that are essentially anti-Semitic.

Poisoned water:
It was one of those sentences that should actually be ignored: Attila Hildmann, former cook of vegan dishes and today one of the self-proclaimed spokesmen for conspiracy theorists in the corona crisis, expressed the suspicion in one of his usual tirades that the drinking water in Berlin was poisoned to the population immobilize. At first glance, this sentence just seems crazy. But even this crazy story brings back memories of ancient conspiracy myths. When the plague broke out in the Middle Ages, Jews were accused of poisoning the wells. Pogroms in numerous cities were the result. If you have this historical reference in the back of your head, apparently incoherent sentences like the one about the supposedly poisoned Berlin drinking water can be placed in a larger context. In general, it is typical of today's anti-Semitism that it is not openly discussed, but functions largely through codes and ciphers.

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World Government:
According to a common conspiracy myth, dark forces want to establish a world government, a kind of worldwide dictatorship. This myth serves the enemy image of the "global elite". Because the downfall of the nation is portrayed as a horror scenario, this narrative could be particularly suitable for right-wing extremists. The corona crisis has shown, however, that such a conspiracy myth by no means only resonates on the far right of Western societies: The corona measures are "a disturbing prelude to the creation of a world government that is beyond control," it said in an appeal several Catholic bishops. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the initiator of the appeal, later defended this statement against the massive criticism of the church representatives and emphasized that the “project of a New World Order” had to be “exposed”.

World conspiracy:
Conspiracy myths divide the world into good and bad, they provide seemingly simple explanations for critical events that shake people's everyday lives. No wonder, then, that those who are susceptible to this type of world interpretation also suspect a large-scale sinister plan behind the corona pandemic and the measures to contain it. Whichever of the conspiracy myths one scratches at, anti-Semitism almost always comes to the fore in a deeper layer. In the past, when there was talk of a worldwide conspiracy, the backers - directly or hidden behind other terms - usually meant the Jews. A book that appeared in Tsarist Russia in 1903 has this supposed Jewish world conspiracy on the subject and claims to prove it with the help of fictitious documents, the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion". Later, the National Socialists took up the anti-Semitic inflammatory pamphlet and the myth propagated in it of the conspiracy planned by Jews in order to stir up hatred of Jews among the population. The “Protocols” were required reading in German schools as early as 1934. To this day, the pamphlet and its ideas are widespread worldwide.

Forced vaccination:
At least some of the people who demonstrate against the corona measures are driven by fear of an allegedly threatened forced vaccination onto the street. Behind this is the claim that the government wants to use the corona crisis to vaccinate the entire population, even against the will of those affected. Vaccination opponents and conspiracy believers come together at the demonstrations, although there is already an overlap between the two groups. Scientists at the University of Mainz came to the conclusion that people with a pronounced conspiracy mentality prefer alternative healing methods and reject methods of classical medicine - such as vaccinations. The fact that the federal government is now publicly emphasizing that there will be no compulsory corona vaccination does not reach those who believe politics to have only sinister intentions anyway.

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