TRAPPES, France — It all began when a high-school teacher warned that Islamists had taken over the city. The teacher went on TV, issuing alarms from inside what he called a “lost city” of the French Republic. In Trappes, he said, he feared for his life.
“Trappes, it’s finished,” the teacher said. “They’ve won.”
The mayor, a strong believer in the Republic, saw the teacher on television and didn’t recognize the city he described. He knew his city, west of Paris and with a growing population of immigrants and Muslims, had problems but thought it was being falsely maligned. The mayor also happened to be a Muslim.
“The truth doesn’t matter anymore,” he said.
For a few weeks this winter, the fight pitting the mayor, Ali Rabeh, 36, against the teacher, Didier Lemaire, 55, became a media storm that, beneath the noise and accusations, boiled down to a single, angry question that runs through the culture wars rippling through France: Can Islam be compatible with the principles of the French Republic?
Lupin.” But Trappes also saw about 70 of its youths leave for jihad to Syria and Iraq, the largest contingent, per capita, from any French city.
article about Mr. Lemaire, who said he was quitting because of Islamists.
Within a few hours, a conservative politician eyeing the presidency tweeted her support for Mr. Lemaire and “all those hussars on the front line in the fight for the Republic.” Next, the far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, attacked “certain elected officials” for failing to protect the teacher from Islamists.
That the words of a virtually unknown teacher resonated so much was a sign of the times. A few months earlier, an extremist had beheaded a middle-school teacher for showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a class on free speech. President Emmanuel Macron was now pushing a bill to fight Islamism even as he pledged to nurture an “Islam of France.”
Mr. Lemaire’s words also resonated because of the outsized role in France of public schoolteachers, who are responsible for inculcating in the young the nation’s political values and culture. In the Republic’s mythology, teachers are the “hussars” — the light cavalry once used for scouting by European armies — fighting to preserve the nation’s sanctity.
In the article, Mr. Lemaire said he had been under police escort for months. Trappes’s mayor, he said, had called him an “Islamophobe and racist.” He said he was waiting for an “exfiltration” from deep inside “a city lost for good.”
Overnight, the soft-spoken, longhaired teacher, who said he preferred curling up with Seneca than going on Facebook, was issuing dire warnings on top television news shows.
“We have six months to a year,” he said, “because all these youths who are educated with the idea that the French are their enemies, they’ll take action one day.”
Mr. Lemaire arrived in Trappes, a banlieue, or suburb, in the outer orbit of Paris, two decades earlier. Once a village that grew around a millennium-old Roman Catholic parish, Trappes is now a city of 32,000.
Mr. Lemaire’s high school, La Plaine-de-Neauphle, stands at the heart of an area built to accommodate immigrant workers from France’s former colonies in the 1970s — a mixture of rent-subsidized high-rises, attractive five-story residences and a constellation of parks. The mosque is nearby. So is a market where vendors offer delicacies from sub-Saharan Africa and halal products.
Parti républicain solidariste, which espouses a hard line on France’s version of secularism, called laïcité. He now favors taking girls away from their parents, after a second warning, if the children violate laïcité rules by putting on Muslim veils during school field trips.
“We have to protect children from this manipulation,” of being used “as soldiers or as ideologues,” he said.
‘I See Myself In Them’
remarks to the newspaper Le Monde, the local préfet, the top civil servant representing the central government, praised Mr. Rabeh’s administration for its “total cooperation” in combating Islamism. The préfet also refuted the teacher’s claim to having been under a police escort.
The teacher’s story began wobbling. He admitted to the French news media, as he did to The Times, that he had “not received explicit death threats.” He had also accused the mayor of calling him a “racist and Islamophobe” in an interview with a Dutch television network.
But the network denied the mayor had said any such thing.
‘France Really Doesn’t Like Us’
letter to the students at the teacher’s high school.
“Don’t let anybody ever tell you that you’re worth nothing and that you’re lost to the Republic,” he wrote.
debate was scheduled that evening between Ms. Le Pen and Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister leading the government’s crackdown on Islamism. Hours before the debate, he announced that the teacher would be granted police protection.
That evening, Jean-Michel Blanquer, the national education minister, issued a statement supporting the teacher. He also accused the mayor of trespassing into the high school to distribute tracts — the letter — that morning. “Political and religious neutrality is at the heart of the operation of the School of the Republic,” the minister said.
The city officials at the school that morning told The Times that no copies were distributed inside. The regional education office and Mr. Blanquer’s office refused to make the school principal available for an interview. The minister’s office declined to comment.
The trespassing accusations led to such an avalanche of threats against the mayor that he, too, was put under police protection — a shared destiny, for a while, for the two men of Trappes, who had each lost something.
The teacher was forced to leave the school where he had taught for 20 years and, despite his criticisms of Trappes, said “you really feel you’re on a mission.” He said he should have been more careful with the facts and had made “many mistakes,” but stuck by his interpretation of Trappes as “lost.”
His words, he said, had led to a “clarification of positions today in France.”
The mayor questioned the very Republic that once inspired him. He had believed that “the people who embody the Republic will come, the government will eventually express its solidarity with me.”
“Stunned,” he said, “I find that’s not the case.”
He declined his worried father’s request to resign.
“For a moment during the crisis, I told myself, well, if this is the Republic, I’m abandoning the Republic, just as it’s abandoned me,” Mr. Rabeh said. “But the truth is they’re not the Republic. The kids of Trappes are the Republic.”
PARIS — Walking home one night several years ago in a suburb of Paris, Raphaël Marre was horrified to see a group of migrants and asylum seekers sleeping on the street outside his home.
Why wasn’t the government housing them? he wondered. After witnessing the same scene for several weeks, he and his wife decided to do it themselves, signing up with a nonprofit that links migrants with people in the Paris region willing to open up their homes for a few nights.
“That was a triggering moment,” Mr. Marre said. “We thought, ‘This can’t be happening, we have to do something.’”
Five years after a migrant crisis that convulsed Europe, France is still struggling to accommodate the thousands of people who have applied for asylum in France. And Mr. Marre is still welcoming them into his home.
France, and much of Europe, was facing a large influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa, driven from their homes by war and economic deprivation.
introduced an initiative that would create 4,500 new spaces in 2021. However, it is “still far from enough to meet the needs,” said Ms. Le Coz.
France’s struggle to accommodate migrants and asylum seekers has become particularly conspicuous in the streets of the Paris region. In what has become a seemingly never-ending cycle, the police regularly clear out hundreds of migrants and raze their tents and shacks, often offering them no alternative but to move somewhere else.
Utopia 56 relies on a network of volunteers, private citizens, parishes and private companies that have sheltered nearly 3,000 people during the pandemic.
Xavier Lachaume, 31, and his wife have hosted eight families in their apartment in Saint-Denis, a northern Paris suburb, since January. For now, visitors stay in their spare bedroom for a couple of nights, which they plan to turn into a room for a baby they expect in coming months.
82,000 asylum applications in 2020, according to Eurostat, Europe’s statistics agency. First-time applicants declined more than 40 percent from 2019, a drop partly attributed to the coronavirus. But Mr. Manzi predicts another surge once the pandemic passes.
President Emmanuel Macron told Brut, an online news site, in December that “the slowness of our procedures means that” asylum seekers “can indeed find themselves for weeks and months” without proper accommodation.
right-wing politicians and conservative news media increasingly drawing a link between illegal migration and terrorism. Mr. Macron’s government has adopted a tougher approach on immigration, hoping that lures voters away from the far right.
Mr. Sanogo said he had arrived in France in 2016 after fleeing Ivory Coast, citing continuing turmoil stemming from the 2011 civil war that tore apart the country, and has lived in a series of workers’ hostels, making money off the books as a construction worker. His wife and their 9-year-old daughter joined him last month, but they were not allowed to stay in his hostel, forcing them to sleep in the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris.
Mr. Sanogo, 44, said his asylum application when he arrived in 2016 had been rejected because he did not make the request in Italy, where he first arrived in Europe, as he was supposed to do under E.U. rules. But he said he had an appointment with a lawyer to make a new application in France, this time with his family.
As he boarded the Metro with his family to go to their hosts, Mr. Sanogo recounted how he had made his away from Ivory Coast to Libya, were he said he was beaten up and robbed by traffickers, and eventually made it to Italy after a perilous boat trip across the Mediterranean.
Mr. Sanogo seemed grateful for Mr. Marre’s hospitality, but mindful that it was only for a night, said he had hidden a bag full of clothes and sheets on the outskirts of Paris.
JERUSALEM — Twenty-seven days before the first rocket was fired from Gaza this week, a squad of Israeli police officers entered the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, brushed the Palestinian attendants aside and strode across its vast limestone courtyard. Then they cut the cables to the loudspeakers that broadcast prayers to the faithful from four medieval minarets.
It was the night of April 13, the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It was also Memorial Day in Israel, which honors those who died fighting for the country. The Israeli president was delivering a speech at the Western Wall, a sacred Jewish site that lies below the mosque, and Israeli officials were concerned that the prayers would drown it out.
The incident was confirmed by six mosque officials, three of whom witnessed it; the Israeli police declined to comment. In the outside world, it barely registered.
But in hindsight, the police raid on the mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, was one of several actions that led, less than a month later, to the sudden resumption of war between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, and the outbreak of civil unrest between Arabs and Jews across Israel itself.
recognized the city as Israel’s capital and nominally moved the United States Embassy there. There were no mass protests after four Arab countries normalized relations with Israel, abandoning a long-held consensus that they would never do so until the Palestinian-Israeli conflict had been resolved.
Two months ago, few in the Israeli military establishment were expecting anything like this.
In private briefings, military officials said the biggest threat to Israel was 1,000 miles away in Iran, or across the northern border in Lebanon.
When diplomats met in March with the two generals who oversee administrative aspects of Israeli military affairs in Gaza and the West Bank, they found the pair relaxed about the possibility of significant violence and celebrating an extended period of relative quiet, according to a senior foreign diplomat who asked to remain anonymous in order to speak freely.
Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem. With a final court decision on their case due in the first half of May, regular protests were held throughout April — demonstrations that accelerated after Palestinians drew a connection between the events at Damascus Gate and the plight of the residents.
video and images showed they engaged in violence themselves. As the images began to circulate online, the neighborhood turned into a rallying point for Palestinians not just across the occupied territories and Israel, but among the diaspora.
The experience of the families, who had already been displaced from what became Israel in 1948, was something “every single Palestinian in the diaspora can relate to,” said Jehan Bseiso, a Palestinian poet living in Lebanon.
And it highlighted a piece of legal discrimination: Israeli law allows Jews to reclaim land in East Jerusalem that was owned by Jews before 1948. But the descendants of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled their homes that year have no legal means to reclaim their families’ land.
sight of stun grenades and bullets inside the prayer hall of one of the holiest sites in Islam — on the last Friday of Ramadan, one of its holiest nights — was seen as a grievous insult to all Muslims.
scenes that were broadcast across the world.
At the last minute, the government rerouted the Jerusalem Day march away from the Muslim Quarter, after receiving an intelligence briefing about the risk of escalation if it went ahead.
But that was too little, and far too late. By then, the Israeli Army had already begun to order civilians away from the Gaza perimeter.
Shortly after 6 p.m. on Monday, the rocket fire from Gaza began.
Rami Nazzal contributed reporting from Ramallah, West Bank, and Iyad Abuhweila from Gaza City.
PARIS — The French prime minister and the chief of staff of the army have condemned ananonymous letter signed by people claiming to be active-duty troops warning about impending “civil war” in France.
Prime Minister Jean Castex told Le Parisien newspaper that the letter was a “political maneuver” by the “extreme right.” Gen. François Lecointre, the army chief of staff, said that the signatories should quit the armed forces if they wanted to freely express their political opinions.
It is unclear how many soldiers are behind the letter, the second such message from active-duty or retired military personnel to appear in the past month. The managing editor of Valeurs Actuelles, the right-wing magazine that published both letters, said the latest was from “active military personnel” and that a bailiff would certify their signatures.
When that might happen was unclear.
The anonymous letter, addressed to President Emmanuel Macron, said: “We see violence in our towns and villages. We see communitarianism taking hold in the public space, in public debate. We see hatred of France and its history becoming the norm.”
previous one, signed by some 1,500 mostly retiredidentified military personnel, including dozens of generals, which described France as being in a state of disarray and warned of a possible coup in thinly veiled terms.
The second letter, which is open for readers to sign, had garnered some 250,000 signatures of support as of Tuesday evening.
The new letter is an unusual escalation in the political involvement of military personnel, with active-duty soldiers now backing retired officers. It has fanned the flames of an already heated debate on security in France, where a series of Islamist terrorist attacks over the past seven months, as well as other violence against the police, have spread unease.
moving right, has recently toughened his stance on security, and against what he calls “Islamist separatism,” in an attempt to blunt the appeal of the far-right leader Marine Le Pen. She expressed strong support for the first letter from the military, and urged the retired officers to join her campaign.
seven-year anti-Islamist operation in the Sahel, a vast region of sub-Saharan Africa, which has had mixed results.
“They have offered up their lives to destroy the Islamism that you have made concessions to on our soil,” the letter read.
A significant proportion of the military in France has long supported the far right in elections. Nearly half of the police and military would vote for Ms. Le Pen in the first round of the 2022 presidential election, according to a survey revealed by the newspaper L’Opinion on Tuesday.
said that some signatories would go before a senior military council and would face punishments ranging from forced full retirement to other disciplinary action.
He softened that stance in a letter to military personnel on Tuesday, a copy of which The New York Times obtained. It contained no threat of punishment but pointed out that the letters “have contributed to dragging the army into political debates where it has neither the legitimacy nor the vocation to intervene.”
Citing a violation of military obligations, Gen. Lecointre encouraged the signatories to “leave the institution in order to freely express their ideas and convictions.”
Members of the far right were quick to voice their support for the new letter on Monday, just as Ms. Le Pen had endorsed the first letter in April, when she called on the retired generals “to join our movement and take part in the battle that is beginning.”
JERUSALEM — Yair Lapid, the centrist leader of the Israeli opposition, was asked on Wednesday to try to form a coalition government after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to do so by a Tuesday deadline.
Mr. Netanyahu remains caretaker prime minister and if Mr. Lapid cannot cobble together a government, the country could face another election this summer, its fifth general election in a little more than two years.
Mr. Lapid has 28 days to persuade a majority of the 120-seat Parliament to support him after the president, Reuven Rivlin, gave him the mandate to begin coalition negotiations.
In the March election campaign, Mr. Lapid, 57, ran on a promise to preserve checks and balances, and to prevent Mr. Netanyahu from remaining in office at the head of a right-wing, religious alliance that seeks to curb the power of the judiciary.
divisions and complexities of Israeli politics currently make it impossible for Mr. Lapid to win office without reaching a compromise with parts of the far right.
general election in March with 17 seats, behind Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing party, Likud, with 30 seats.
offering Mr. Bennett a power-sharing deal in which, like the deal proposed by Mr. Lapid, Mr. Bennett would go first as prime minister.
But Mr. Bennett rejected it because the proposed alliance would still not have commanded a parliamentary majority.
Right-wing parties hold a majority in Parliament, but have been unable to form a functional government over the past two years because they are divided between those who support Mr. Netanyahu, and those who believe he should resign to focus on his corruption trial.
That split has redrawn the Israeli political map — as political ideology has become defined more by perceptions of Mr. Netanyahu than by economic policy or approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
BERLIN — The police in Germany have arrested a 53-year-old man with a history of support for the far right in connection with a series of death threats sent to well-known progressives, including a lawyer, a politician and a comedian, the authorities said on Tuesday.
The threats usually included information known only to the authorities, such as the names of the targets’ children or their home addresses, initially leading investigators to suspect that police officers were involved and adding to concerns about the increasing influence of far-right extremists within the ranks of law enforcement.
Peter Beuth, interior minister for the central state of Hesse, where most of the victims lived, told reporters on Tuesday, “The threatening letters had raised very serious suspicions about the police.” But, he added, “According to everything we know today, no Hessian police officer was ever responsible.”
The authorities said on Tuesday that the suspect, who has not been publicly identified in keeping with German privacy laws, had never worked as a police officer. Many of the notes were signed “NSU 2.0,” a reference to a far-right terrorist group that killed 10 people, laid bombs and committed robberies for more than a decade, starting in 1999.
The authorities in Hesse said that the death threats began in 2018 and were sent mostly to women known for their work on behalf of migrants.
The suspect was detained in Berlin at the request of the authorities in Hesse as part of an investigation that began in 2019.
The man has a criminal record that includes unspecified right-wing crimes, according to the Hesse State authorities. Several news outlets reported that he had obtained at least some of the personal information by contacting public registries and demanding access while impersonating a police officer.
The campaign of threats also inspired copycats. Last summer, a former police officer in Bavaria and his wife were arrested on charges of sending similar threatening letters.
GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany — The country’s largest-circulation tabloid called him the “scandal asylum seeker” and accused him (falsely) of entering the country illegally. People hacked his social media accounts and broadcast his location and personal information. A far-right political leader decried him as the “ringleader” of a violent protest, while another even suggested people like him would be a good reason to bring back the death penalty in Germany.
Alassa Mfouapon is hardly the first refugee to become sensationalist fodder for tabloids or a convenient scapegoat for far-right, anti-immigration politicians. In the five years since a major wave of refugees arrived in Germany, such portrayals have become commonplace.
But the 31-year-old from Cameroon is the first to take them to court for those depictions — and win.
In the process, he has emerged as an ideological lightning rod in the debate over refugee politics in Germany, his journey highlighting the disconnect between the country’s image on refugee issues and the reality for many of those who seek asylum here.
German court ruled that aspects of the police’s handling of the Ellwangen raid were illegal. The court did not rule entirely in his favor — it said, for example, that his 2018 deportation to Italy was legal, and that people in refugee facilities like Ellwangen cannot expect the same privacy rights as ordinary citizens. But his case has spurred a re-examination of the treatment of the Ellwangen incident in the German news media, drawing more attention to the voices of the refugees involved.
Cases like Mr. Mfouapon’s remain rare, because few refugees want to stand up to the state for fear they will become targets, just as Mr. Mfouapon has.
Mr. Mfouapon returned to Germany in 2019. He and his wife split up, unable to move past the loss of their son. He has added German to his other language skills and, with the help of some activists involved in his petition, applied for and started a training program in media production last year.
He has also launched a refugee advocacy organization to continue drawing awareness to these issues. Speaking out about his experiences is important to him personally, but is also a way to cope with the trauma and loss he has faced.
“All these events in my life, all these things that were happening before — if you want to deal with them, the only way you can do it is to try to go forward,” he said. “To say, ‘I will be fighting for the people who are not yet in this situation, so that what’s happening will not happen to anyone else.’”
He believes Germany needs to re-examine its asylum policy, and is pushing for changes to the Dublin rule. With worsening conditions in his home country and many others, Mr. Mfouapon said, migration issues will only intensify in coming years — and governments like Germany’s need to be ready with better solutions.
“They are trying to stop it, they are not trying to solve it,” he said. “And trying to stop something that’s exploded already — you can’t.”
PARIS — The French government, responding to several attacks over the past seven months, presented a new anti-terrorism bill on Wednesday that would allow intense algorithmic surveillance of phone and internet communications and tighten restrictions on convicted terrorists emerging from prison.
Prepared before the latest terrorist attack — the fatal stabbing five days ago of a police employee by a radicalized Tunisian immigrant — the bill assumed greater urgency in a country where feelings of insecurity have spread.
“There have been nine attacks in a row that we could not detect through current means,” Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister, told France Inter radio. “We continue to be blind, doing surveillance on normal phone lines that nobody uses any longer.”
The draft bill, prepared by Mr. Darmanin, came in a political and social climate envenomed by Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader, who applauded a letter published this month by 20 retired generals that described France as being in a state of “disintegration” and warned of a possible coup in thinly veiled terms.
Ms. Parly said on Twitter, alluding to the far right leader’s candidacy in the presidential election next year.
She continued: “The politicization of the armed forces suggested by Ms. Le Pen would weaken our military and therefore France itself. The armed forces are not there to campaign but to defend France and protect the French.”
The defense minister said the retired officers involved could be disciplined, and checks were being conducted to verify whether any active-service military personnel were involved.
The letter, published on the 60th anniversary of a failed coup by generals opposed to France’s granting independence to Algeria, amounted to a distillation of the extreme right’s conviction that France is being torn apart by the kind of violence that last week killed the police officer, Stéphanie Monfermé. Her assailant’s position of having been in France illegally for a decade before regularizing his status only fueled the right’s ire.
The retired generals alluded to the “suburban hordes” — a derogatory reference to the mainly Muslim immigrants gathered in aging tower-block developments around major French cities — who they said were detaching segments of the nation “to transform them into territories subject to dogmas opposed to our Constitution.”
One such dogma, they made clear, was “Islamism” and another rampant “racialism” — a word used often in France to denounce the importation from the United States of forms of identity politics that see issues through the prism of race.
Ms. Le Pen has been engaged in what French commentators call a “banalization” operation aimed at making her look more mainstream. Her outburst clearly did not help this effort. An attempted pivot in a radio interview, in which she said that all problems should be solved peacefully, betrayed her unease.
Mr. Darmanin’s draft bill would, if approved by Parliament, pave the way for increased use of computer algorithms that allow the automatic processing of data from phones and web addresses to detect potential terror threats. This use, patchy and experimental until now, would be enshrined in law, and intelligence services would be able to keep the data for research purposes for up to two months.
Laurent Nuñez, France’s national intelligence and counterterrorism coordinator, told France Inter that the technique would apply to communications with people living in sensitive areas, such as Syria, where strongholds of jihadist terrorists remain.
“An algorithm tomorrow will not be able to detect the content of this communication,” Mr. Nuñez said, by way of example. But it would be able “to detect that an individual in France has come into contact with an individual in northwestern Syria.”
Intelligence services could then ask for permission to further investigate the case.
Mr. Darmanin, responding to concerns that civil liberties will be gravely infringed, said that several layers of authorization would be required before tapping the conversations of people detected as suspect by the algorithms.
Concern about infractions of civil liberties in the fight against terrorism have been growing for some time. Arthur Messaud, a lawyer for an association that defends personal online rights and freedom, told France Inter the scope of the new measures was unclear. For example, would all instant messaging be monitored?
The draft bill would also allow the government to monitor terrorists who have completed their prison terms by requiring them to live in certain areas, limiting their movements and barring them from going anywhere — like a sports stadium — that presents “a particular terrorism risk.”
The German domestic intelligence agency is keeping close tabs on a group of coronavirus deniers, who, in their protests against restrictions and tendency to believe in conspiracy theories, have found common cause with far-right extremists.
Government officials said the movement’s close ties to extremist organizations, such as the “Reich citizens” — or “Reichsbürger,” as they are known in German, referring to a group that refuses to accept the legitimacy of the modern German state — were troubling. Many of the coronavirus deniers say they also believe in QAnon conspiracy theories, and protesters are frequently seen holding signs with anti-Semitic tropes. A number of journalists have been attacked while covering the demonstrations.
A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said in a statement, “Our basic democratic order, as well as state institutions such as parliaments and governments, have faced multiple attacks since the beginning of the measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.” Several regional intelligence agencies have already been observing participants in the movement, he added.
The group of deniers, which started as a fringe movement last spring, has grown into a coordinated effort that organizes mass demonstrations across Germany. The rallies occasionally turn aggressive, and many have ended in scuffles with law enforcement officers.
AfD, a German right-wing populist party, have allied themselves with protesters. The national intelligence agency’s formal observation of the deniers’ group is the first step in a procedure that could lead to it being declared anti-constitutional and ultimately banned.
A week ago, about 8,000 people in Berlin protested the passing of a law that gives the federal government power to implement tougher restrictions. Germany has seen a persistently high average number of new daily cases recently, averaging about 18,000 a day, according to a New York Times database, up from about 8,000 a day two months ago.
Terpsichore Maras-Lindeman, a podcaster who fought to overturn the 2020 presidential election, recently railed against mask mandates to her 4,000 fans in a live broadcast and encouraged them to enter stores maskless. On another day, she grew emotional while thanking them for sending her $84,000.
Millie Weaver, a former correspondent for the conspiracy theory website Infowars, speculated on her channel that coronavirus vaccines could be used to surveil people. Later, she plugged her merchandise store, where she sells $30 “Drain the Swamp” T-shirts and hats promoting conspiracies.
And a podcaster who goes by Zak Paine or Redpill78, who pushes the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, urged his viewers to donate to the congressional campaign of an Ohio man who has said he attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington on Jan. 6.
Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms clamped down on misinformation and hate speech ahead of the 2020 election.
apps like Google Podcasts, where far-right influencers have scattered as their options for spreading falsehoods have dwindled.
Twitch became a multibillion-dollar business thanks to video gamers broadcasting their play of games like Fortnite and Call of Duty. Fans, many of whom are young men, pay the gamers by subscribing to their channels or donating money. Streamers earn even more by sending their fans to outside sites to either buy merchandise or donate money.
Now Twitch has also become a place where right-wing personalities spread election and vaccine conspiracy theories, often without playing any video games. It is part of a shift at the platform, where streamers have branched out from games into fitness, cooking, fishing and other lifestyle topics in recent years.
But unlike fringe livestreaming sites like Dlive and Trovo, which have also offered far-right personalities moneymaking opportunities, Twitch attracts far larger audiences. On average, 30 million people visit the site each day, the platform said.
stricter rules than other social media platforms for the kinds of views that users can express. It temporarily suspended Mr. Trump’s account for “hateful conduct” last summer, months before Facebook and Twitter made similar moves. Its community guidelines prohibit hateful conduct and harassment. Ms. Clemens said Twitch was developing a misinformation policy.
This month, Twitch announced a policy that would allow it to suspend the accounts of people who committed crimes or severe offenses in real life or on other social media platforms, including violent extremism or membership in a known hate group. Twitch said it did not consider QAnon to be a hate group.
Despite all this, a Twitch channel belonging to Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys, a white nationalist organization, remained online until the middle of this month after The New York Times inquired about it. And the white nationalist Anthime Joseph Gionet, known as Baked Alaska, had a Twitch channel for months, even though he was arrested in January by the F.B.I. and accused of illegally storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Twitch initially said his activities had not violated the platform’s policies, then barred him this month for hateful conduct.
has said is dangerous. Last week, he referred to a QAnon belief that people are killing children to “harvest” a chemical compound from them, then talked about a “criminal cabal” controlling the government, saying people do not understand “what plane of existence they come from.”
Mr. Paine, who is barred from Twitter and YouTube, has also asked his Twitch audience to donate to the House campaign of J.R. Majewski, an Air Force veteran in Toledo, Ohio, who attracted attention last year for painting his lawn to look like a Trump campaign banner. Mr. Majewski has used QAnon hashtags but distanced himself from the movement in an interview with his local newspaper, The Toledo Blade.
Mr. Majewski has appeared on Mr. Paine’s streams, where they vape, chat about Mr. Majewski’s campaign goals and take calls from listeners.
“He is exactly the type of person that we need to get in Washington, D.C., so that we can supplant these evil cabal criminal actors and actually run our own country,” Mr. Paine said on one stream.
Neither Mr. Paine nor Mr. Majewski responded to a request for comment.
Joan Donovan, a Harvard University researcher who studies disinformation and online extremism, said streamers who rely on their audience’s generosity to fund themselves felt pressured to continue raising the stakes.
“The incentive to lie, cheat, steal, hoax and scam is very high when the cash is easy to acquire,” she said.