What's going on in a cult

The dangerous lies of the QAnon : A conspiracy belief goes around the world

On Wednesday of last week, "Q" answered with message number 4627. In it he stated that the emblem of the nomination party conference of the US Democrats resembled a pentagram. This is a clear sign that the Democrats worship Satan: "One party is wiping out God."

Sometimes Q distributes several posts in quick succession, sometimes he is silent for days. His supporters believe there are strategic reasons for this. Or as Q himself put it, at the end of July in his message number 4618: "Do not confuse silence with inaction."

Behind the pseudonym, it is said among his fans, a high-ranking US official is hiding who has the highest security clearance and therefore knows a lot of secrets. Because his identity is unknown, they also call him “QAnon”, Anon for anonymous.

In his messages he reports on an apocalyptic struggle that is taking place in secret. On the one hand, there are dark forces that enslaved the people and have long established themselves in the state apparatus: Satanists, pedophiles and Jews. On the other hand, there is US President Donald Trump, who wants to clean up the White House and hunt down the criminal elite. For Q believers, Trump is the savior.

The first religion of the internet?

The conspiracy myth has spread so rapidly in the United States in just three years that observers speak of a “new religion” - the first to emerge on the Internet. It has also led to acts of violence because supporters went into armed struggle against alleged elites themselves. In July, the FBI declared the movement to "endanger national security".

The belief is now also popular in Germany, especially among corona skeptics. At rallies of the “lateral thinking” movement, many demonstrators identify themselves as Q supporters, wearing the letters on signs, T-shirts and badges in their hair.

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In his speech at the beginning of August, lateral thinking initiator Michael Ballweg quoted the QAnon movement's slogan on stage: “Where We Go One, We Go All.” In a sense: One for all, all for one.
Q believers also played a crucial role in the attempt to storm the Reichstag last weekend. Tamara K., the non-medical practitioner from the Eifel who poked the crowd right before the action, belongs to a network of QAnon activists. It's called “Qlobal-Change” and has 100,000 subscribers on YouTube alone. K. was active there as a spokeswoman, proclaiming horror stories in videos.

Her lie, presented at the Reichstag, that Trump landed in Berlin, that the demonstrators now have to set an example and show him that “we have fed up”, fits into the QAnon cosmos. If anyone can save Germany from the secret elites, it is Trump.

In the United States, according to a recent poll by the polling firm Civiqs, one in three Republican voters believes the QAnon story is true. Another 25 percent say at least parts of it were true. Several Republicans calling themselves Q supporters could enter the House of Representatives in the November elections.

Trump himself spread messages from Q on Twitter. When asked about his relationship with the movement at a press conference in August, the President said he had heard that these are "people who love our country."

In response to a reporter's objection that Q believers seriously claimed that Trump was in the final battle against a satanic cult and pedophile, he replied, "If I can help save the world from problems, I'm ready."

QAnon comes in handy for Trump as a campaign aid

To date, the president has not publicly questioned the reality of the conspiracy myth. Instead, he fires it up with hints. Trump just announced in an interview that his opponent Joe Biden is being "controlled by dark forces". QAnon comes in handy for Trump as a campaign aid.

Q publishes his messages on the “8kun” internet portal. His followers copy them from there to other social networks, fill blogs and video channels, interpret and decorate them. It is unclear who is actually hiding behind the pseudonym, whether a person or a group.

Now countless anonymous impostors, trolls and right-wing extremists cavort in forums like “8kun”. Why did this one in particular manage to be taken so seriously and recognized worldwide? Experts say this is due to Q's talent to use a wide variety of, sometimes significantly older, falsehoods and to adapt them. QAnon is not just a conspiracy myth. More like a super conspiracy myth.

According to Q, the "Titanic" was sunk by a greedy banker. School massacres never happened, the alleged death of actors. North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un is an FBI agent, Angela Merkel is related to Adolf Hitler. Almost three years ago, Q said in his message 142: “Follow the bloodline.” But Hitler was again just a doll. Controlled by the same powers that led the world conspiracy today. Much of Q's news is oozing anti-Semitism.

His specialty was false prognosis

In his early days, Q dared to make specific predictions that could be used to check whether they would come true or not. His hit rate was disastrous. The assertion that Hillary Clinton would be imprisoned in the next few days was just as unlikely as the demise of liberal media representatives. When several announced waves of arrests of alleged elites failed to materialize, Q proceeded to formulate his prognoses in a more nebulous, often cryptic manner. Now they can no longer be refuted.

Its learning curve is strongly reminiscent of that of sects, which also stopped naming concrete doom dates after apocalypses had not occurred.

The false prognoses of the early days did not harm Q. Supporters speculate that they were deliberately chosen and that they have a deeper meaning that remains unfathomable for the time being.

Tamara K., the alternative practitioner and fanatic of the Berlin Reichstag staircase, does not draw any conclusions from the fact that Trump did not jump aside at the crucial moment - yes, that he was not even in Berlin. K. admits that in retrospect her claim "unfortunately turned out to be somewhat incorrect". But she still insists on having secret contacts in high diplomatic circles.

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Q's hatred is primarily directed against the Democratic Party in the USA, against Hollywood and the media. Looked at soberly, QAnon is a vulgar, rather crude dirt campaign against all of Trump's critics. Why does the movement in Germany still have so many supporters?

It is the idea of ​​the "uprising against hidden elites" that so many, says the book author and GWUP spokesman Bernd Harder on the phone. He has been dealing with conspiracy myths for years and also watches their spread among German corona deniers.

QAnon serves all needs because of which people feel drawn to conspiracy myths in the first place. "On the one hand, it enables self-enhancement," says Harder. The conviction that you know a secret, look behind the scenes and understand connections that are hidden from the majority of the population feels good.

On the other hand, QAnon fulfills the desire to reduce complexity: "Whatever happens in the world, be it wars, poverty, refugee movements or the question of why Trump became president - all of this can apparently be explained with a single theory."

In addition, QAnon also promises self-efficacy in addition to self-enhancement. One can be part of a movement, and simply by “passing on Q's messages, I become a resistance fighter against evil”.

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The central assumption of the Q lie - the belief in a child abuse ring organized by Satanists and Jews - is based on a conspiracy myth from the fall of 2016. At that time, Wikileaks published the hacked email traffic of Hillary Clinton's campaign manager. Internet users combed the messages for evidence of possible criminal activity or other offenses - and when they did not find any, looked for possible secret codes.

In a few emails, the campaign manager had communicated with the owner friend of the “Comet Ping Pong” pizzeria in Washington - also about food. One forum user speculated that the word “cheese pizza” actually meant “child pornography” - because of the identical first letters.

Others believed this theory and offered interpretations. So the rumor arose that there were catacombs under the pizzeria, from which the Democrats operated a child abuse ring. In the end, a heavily armed man stormed the pizzeria and shot around. In court, the perpetrator said he wanted to do his own research to see whether there was anything to the rumors.

The pizzeria has no cellar.

In the corona crisis, Q supporters revived and further developed the story of lies about the child trafficking eatery. The curfews imposed, for example, have nothing to do with the virus, it doesn't exist anyway, but is necessary so that Trump's people can free thousands and thousands of abused children from torture rooms undisturbed.
There were new waves of hatred against the owner of the pizzeria. He is amazed that so many of the insults and threats are coming from Germany.

In the US, cases of Q followers using violence are increasing. The FBI warns of "conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists" and specifically names QAnon. Observers fear the situation could escalate if Trump narrowly loses the election and does not acknowledge his defeat. For Q supporters, it could then be self-defense to fight back.

Social networks react. In July, Twitter banned 7,000 accounts that regularly distributed Q's content. Facebook deleted a number of groups. Q's followers are driven to new theories. Tamara K., the alternative practitioner from the Eifel, spoke about it on her channel. There is a simple reason why Twitter, Facebook and Youtube have blocked so many accounts: “Because Q is real. Because Q is a secret service organization and because Q publishes true information. "

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