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Man behind Sadiq Khan giant balloon plan 'sent antisemitic tweets'

Posts from free speech advocate’s deleted Twitter account promoted antisemitic conspiracy theories 

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Friday 31 August 2018 16:05 BST
Sadiq Khan is allowing a giant baby Trump to fly over London and Piers Morgan is furious

The man behind a plan to fly a giant balloon depicting Sadiq Khan over London has been accused of previously sending a number of antisemitic tweets.

Yanny Bruere, who describes himself as a free speech advocate, is heading a campaign called “make London safe again” that blames the mayor personally for a rise in violent crime and terror attacks.

The 29ft balloon will fly over Parliament Square on Saturday, a month after a crowdfunded balloon depicting Donald Trump was inflated in the same place during mass protests against the US president’s visit.

Mr Khan and London authorities gave permission for the event, which is calling for the mayor to be removed from office.

“If people want to spend their Saturday looking at me in a yellow bikini they’re welcome to do so,” Mr Khan said. ”I don’t really think yellow’s my colour though.”

Mr Bruere launched his campaign – which exceeded targets and raised £75,000 – in July and has been calling for support on social media, through the “Make London Safe Again” Facebook page and a Twitter account in his own name that was created in June.

But online investigators at Bellingcat linked Mr Bruere to a deleted Twitter account with the handles @yanny1112 and later @allequal117 that promoted antisemitic conspiracy theories.

In August 2016, a tweet from the account claimed that “Zionists promote mass immigration into Europe” and the “White House is filled with Zionists”.

In April last year, the user claimed that “the Jews” were “in control…you’re not allowed to speak about them”, with the hashtag #jewsruntheworld.

The account also shared conspiracy theories, including those claiming that “Isis was created by Israel” and that Auschwitz was a “fabrication”.

“These tweets reveal that Bruere sometimes acted like a troll who used to respond with well-known antisemitic conspiracy theories,” Bellingcat investigators said in their report.

When asked about the account’s activity by The Independent, Mr Bruere claimed it was deleted “a while ago”, adding: “You’ve found three tweets [out of context], which were part of longer threads.”

His campaign has been vocally supported by far-right figures in the US and UK, including Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson, American anti-Islam pundit Pamela Geller, former youth British National Party chair Mark Collett and Katie Hopkins.

The story of the crowdfunding campaign has also been promoted by right-wing media outlets including Fox News, Tommy Robinson’s former employers Rebel Media and Westmonster.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Bruere said: “I have zero links to any ‘right Wing’ groups. No political affiliations. No donors. No political degree. No PR/Media training. I just started a crowdfund that’s all.”

The balloon depicts Mr Khan in a yellow bikini, which is a reference to the London-wide ban imposed on an advert asking women whether they were “beach body ready” in 2016.

It has since been held up by the far-right as evidence of a supposed crackdown on free speech and “Islamisation”.

The crowdfunding page said it would test whether “free speech applies to all” and said any surplus money would be used to campaign for Mr Khan to be removed from office.

“Under Sadiq Khan, we have seen crime sky rocket to unprecedented levels,” it continued. “People in London don’t feel safe and they aren’t safe.”

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick recently said violent crime had been rising in London since 2014 – when Boris Johnson was mayor – but had started to “stabilise” following a spate of stabbings and street murders.

Police forces say they have been forced to change the way they respond to some crimes and stop investigating some completely because of budget cuts by the Conservative government and the loss of 20,000 officers since 2010.

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