David Icke in 2020. PHOTO: Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images
The Dutch government has banned the controversial British conspiracy theorist David Icke from entering the Netherlands and basically all of the EU over concerns he poses a threat to public order, officials announced on Thursday. Icke, a former footballer and sports broadcaster who is one of the world’s most high-profile conspiracy theorists, had been scheduled to speak at a “peace” rally by a conspiracist movement in Amsterdam on Sunday protesting the Ukraine war, the Dutch government and energy prices. Dutch news service RTL Nieuws reported that the decision had been made following consultations between the Dutch immigration service, police and the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism.
Icke confirmed the ban, posting a scan of a 5-page letter from the Dutch immigration service to his website. The letter stated the entry ban extended to the entire Schengen visa-free area of 26 European countries, for two years. The letter stated that the ban was due to concerns his presence at an Amsterdam rally planned for Sunday could lead to “a disturbance of public order.”Icke, who since the pandemic has emerged as a key voice in the global COVID conspiracist “freedom” movement, had been scheduled to deliver the keynote speech at a demo organised by Samen Voor Nederland (Together For The Netherlands), a group which emerged in opposition to coronavirus-related restrictions. Ciaran O’Connor, a senior analyst at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, said the group had become known for “promoting many baseless and false conspiracy theories and claims about the Great Reset, COVID-19 or the invasion of Ukraine.” He said the group regularly promoted far-right politics and conspiracy ideologies, and regularly referred to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as a dictator. The letter from Dutch immigration authorities announcing the ban also referred to the anti-Semitic overtones of Icke’s defining conspiracy ideology – that the world is secretly controlled by a global elite of shape-shifting, child-sacrificing reptilians. “According to critics, the reptiles are a metaphor for a (partly Jewish) elite that forms an all-powerful secret world government and is active in all ranks of society,” the letter read.
Not all of the elites named by Icke as supposed reptilians are Jewish, such as members of the British royal family, but many are. He has repeatedly insisted he is not anti-Semitic, and claims he is not campaigning against any particular human group, but instead a class of alien-descended reptilians merely posing as humans.But experts who monitor conspiracy movements say Icke’s ideology strongly echoes centuries-old libels against Jewish people. They say it’s an ideology that’s found a growing audience since the start of the pandemic, which has led to an explosion in conspiracy beliefs about supposed global elites seeking to bring about a New World Order, most notably the QAnon conspiracy theory, which holds that elites are torturing children to harvest a chemical called adrenochrome from their blood.Joe Ondrak, head of investigation for Logically, an organisation that combats online misinformation, said that since the pandemic, Icke’s profile was “higher internationally than it ever has been.”Since the outbreak of COVID, Icke had been “instrumental in setting the scene for the UK conspiracy milieu,” he said, finding a receptive new audience for his narrative of “vaguely-euphemistic antisemitism, global control through fakery, anti-vax, and human enslavement.”
Despite his interviews being taken down from YouTube early in the pandemic, he had carved out a role as a “central node in the global anti-COVID-vaccine, anti-lockdown, and now generally conspiratorial ‘freedom’ network.” Icke regularly spoke at demos across the anti-vax, COVID truther scene; his son, Gareth Icke, has followed in his footsteps, running an online media outlet, Ickonic, which pushes conspiracist narratives. On Thursday night, Gareth Icke tweeted his disbelief at his father’s entry ban from the Netherlands. “The old man is banned from entering the Netherlands. Zero convictions, zero crimes committed. Banned by the government. Wow.”But experts said the danger posed by Icke’s conspiracy ideology was clear.“Given Icke's turn towards various forms of COVID conspiracies since the start of the pandemic, the potential for his claims to have lasting harm in the Netherlands is very real,” said O’Connor.Ondrak said the ban reflected a growing awareness by governments of the threat posed by volatile conspiracy movements.“While some conspiracies are harmless and the ability to entertain such beliefs is indicative of a healthy society, Icke’s brand of stealthily antisemitic speculative fiction functions as an easy on-ramp to harder and more extreme views,” he said.