‘Where we go 1, we go all’ and ‘satanic pedo terror’: cards and notes that accompany the flowers on the Vredehof contain a lot of language used by followers of QAnon. This is a conspiracy theory that claims, among other things, that the world is not ruled by democratic governments, but by a secret underlying network of powerful people who are guilty of pedophilia.
In the United States, for example, there was speculation that Hillary Clinton would lock children in the basement of a pizza joint in Washington. That even led a man to raid this restaurant with a weapon to free the children, only to discover that there wasn’t even a cellar.
While other rumors also turned out to be firmly false, the speculation did not end. In fact, the theories have only spread more widely and have therefore spread to the Netherlands. According to the BBC, only Germany and the US are more posts with QAnon-like hashtags.
But what does Bodegraven have to do with this network? A former resident named Joost Knevel plays a central role in this. His name is also referred to in one of the cards in the cemetery: ‘I put these flowers in honor to Joost Knevel (hero of the heroes!) And the other victims of satanic abuse. Many have not survived this, but there is still much to be saved! #StopVanDissel! ‘
Knevel, who according to the NOS has a criminal past, now lives in Spain, but last year emailed the well-known conspiracy thinker Martin Vrijland that he has rediscovered ‘repressed memories’ from 1982. He now claims that he was a 4-year-old how a general practitioner from Bodegraven murdered at least two children together with RIVM boss Jaap van Dissel, including in a schoolyard. According to the NOS, this has never been reported, and van Dissel and the doctor say that they do not know each other.
The flower campaign in Bodegraven is intended as a tribute to the allegedly murdered children and to a ‘fellow witness’, who died in an accident in 2007. The activists are urged through a Telegram group and a ‘news’ on YouTube. It also shows former journalist Micha Kat, who is avoiding a prison sentence for libel, slander and threats to journalists in Northern Ireland. Kat also calls Van Dissel a satanic pedophile, and the RIVM has reported this. Despite the fact that Kat and Knevel continuously say in the news that they have evidence for their allegations, it remains with innuendo and making vague connections.
The fact that Jaap van Dissel’s name turns up in conspiracy theories is – no matter how bizarre the theories may sound – not surprising. There are many myths about the coronavirus, for example that it is the 5G network or that Bill Gates is behind it. Kat also says in one of the YouTube videos that he was taken aback by Knevel’s story because Jaap van Dissel is featured in it. If this story is proven, says Kat, it will also turn out that the corona measures are a deliberate plot. In other words: ‘The key to the liberation of the Netherlands lies in Bodegraven.’
In this way it becomes clear what the theories about the virus have in common with the rumors about pedophile networks: they are based on a deep distrust in social institutions such as politics, RIVM and the media. According to experts, conspiracy thinking is often fueled by crises in society and used as a kind of self-defense mechanism: when we find ourselves in a threatening situation, we try to understand it. Incidentally, the number of people who trust the media and government during the corona crisis increased rather than decreased, according to various studies. It does seem, however, that the people who were already suspicious are becoming more and more suspicious and are making themselves heard more and more. For that reason we hear more and more about actions like the one in Bodegraven.
In the TV West Nieuws, Jan-Willem van Prooijen, behavioral scientist at the VU University Amsterdam, elaborates on the phenomenon of conspiracy thinking.
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