Right-wing extremists are using conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 and online gaming as a means to recruit young people, as data has revealed that half of the most serious cases of suspected radicalization reported by schools and colleges involve far-right activities. According to figures released by the British Home Office, the number of young people in school who were at risk of radicalization from the right was twice as large as that of Islamist extremists. The latest figures were part of the government’s Prevent anti-extremism program, covering 2020-2021.
Shared on the official website, it showed 310 people were referred to the program by schools, colleges and universities due to far-right ties. But, only 157 were referred due to their vulnerability to Islamic extremism. While less than one in five cases of suspected Islamic extremism has been aggravated by authorities and nearly one in three cases involving far-right extremism has been referred to the government’s Channel program. The “Channel” program aimed to protect those individuals who would be most likely to be radicalized and drawn into terrorist activities.
Far-right extremism on the rise, says Prevent coordinator
According to The Guardian report, Sean Arbuthnot, a Prevent coordinator for Leicestershire, said that while far-right extremism has been on the rise for several years, online apps and platforms are increasingly popping up in referrals such as referrals from games that include gaming platforms and chat apps like Discord as right-wing groups sought to reach out to young people. According to some sources, while eight right-wing racist individuals and groups have been prescribed by the government, Arbuthnot expressed concern about far-right groups that are not yet banned from attaching themselves to existing controversies.
Arbuthnot was quoted by the media, “[Some] during the pandemic, they ran leaflet distribution campaigns, where they would promote the narrative that Covid is a hoax, that hospital wards are empty, and that you shouldn’t get vaccinated. Then they load their leaflets with pseudo-scientific evidence. But at the same time, they are dropping leaflets claiming whites will be a minority in Britain, fueling people’s fears. “
“If you engage with them on a YouTube platform and scroll down the comments section, then you may find links to more encrypted chat rooms or far-right codes or signs and symbols that you could. be tempted to search, “he added. “This is one of the disturbing ways that right-wing extremists can play on the fears that have resulted from Covid-19 and the conspiracies, to prepare, in essence, vulnerable young people in the online space. “