What happened when a bizarre US-based conspiracy theory surfaced a continent away in Africa?
In the second part of Trending’s mini series about the impact of QAnon around the world, we report from South Africa.
At the heart of QAnon is the baseless claim that former US president Donald Trump is waging a secret war against a cabal of powerful paedophiles who run American politics and Hollywood.
But in South Africa, elements of QAnon have been translated into the local context of pre-existing tensions in society, and are helping turn South Africans against both immigrants and one another.
Presenter: Jonathan Griffin
Reporter: Mpho Lakaje
Editor: Mike Wendling
QAnon at the ballot box
Believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory were part of the mob that stormed the US Capitol on 6 January 2021. Even though the movement’s figurehead went silent for months, followers continue to try to influence American politics – but their tactics have changed. Members of a coalition assembled by a QAnon influencer are running for public office in more than a dozen states, targeting positions that control elections. Among them are Jim Marchant, a Republican candidate for secretary of state of Nevada, and Doug Mastriano, who won a fierce primary battle to win the Republican nomination for governor of Pennsylvania. They’re both part of the America First Secretary of State (SOS) Coalition, a group that was founded by a mysterious QAnon influencer who operates under the pseudonym “Juan O Savin”.
We investigate what the coalition trying to do – and what influence QAnon still has on American politics today.
Presenter: Mike Wendling
Producer: Sam Judah
Picture caption: Jake Angeli (left), the so-called “QAnon Shaman”, pictured at a rally in Washington in December 2020.
Picture credit: Getty Images
India’s alt-right 'trads'
A new extremist Hindu movement made up mostly of young men is emerging in India. They call themselves “trads” – short for traditionalists - and they mimic the tricks and techniques used by the American alt-right.
This fringe movement came to prominence after some of its proponents created Bulli Bai, an app that pretended to auction off prominent Muslim women - making them the targets of abuse and harassment.
Trads love memes and loathe mainstream Hindu nationalist parties, even the ruling BJP. They see the party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as not nearly as aggressive enough in advancing Hindu interests.
So who are the trads and what do they want? Reha Kansara investigates, speaking to experts and women who’ve been targeted by trads. And she talks to a 16-year-old trad who’s obsessed with fascist ideas and calls for Indian democracy to be replaced by a Hindu monarchy.
Presenter: Reha Kansara
Producers: Shruti Menon and Shubham Koul
The online boom in climate doom
It is hard not to feel anxious about climate change. After all, the world is already experiencing the effects of global warming - and scientists tell us much worse could still be on its way.
For some, tackling climate change feels like a lost cause: a job so big and complex, that it is doomed for failure - the demise of the human species is inevitable. This is wrong. But even though this view is predicated on falsehoods and distortions, it appears to be spreading online - and a lot of young people are getting sucked in. Why is "doomism" going viral? And who are the activists and campaigners standing up to it?
Presenter: Marco Silva
(Illustration: Hands holding electronic devices showing melting planets. Credit: Sandra Rodríguez Chillida/BBC News)
Gaming Brazil's election
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the gaming community. They were one of the groups he relied on to get elected in 2018 and he has since rewarded them by lowering taxes on video games consoles.
The country’s gaming industry is unique – forged by a combination of strict import laws under military rule, homegrown talent and later, high prices which kept the world of gaming firmly in the hands of the rich and privileged.
Brazilian gamers were drawn to President Bolsonaro’s straight talk. But there are hints that things might be changing. His handling of the coronavirus pandemic has caused Bolsonaro’s approval rates to fall across society – and gamers are no exception. Some high profile gaming supporters have turned their back on the president. Plus the industry’s demographics are rapidly shifting, and not in Bolsonaro’s favour. So how are video game developers visualising the 2022 election? And can President Bolsonaro still rely on the support of the button bashers to defeat his arch enemy Lula?
Presenter: Jonathan Griffin
Reporter: Juliana Gragnani
(Image: A still from a satirical Brazilian game which pits politicians against each other in a vicious fight. Credit: Políticos Memes Kombat)