Dalai Lama ‘suck my tongue’ moment excites conspiracy theorists

Conspiracy theorists claim the viral video of the Dalai Lama kissing a young boy ‘proves’ their belief of a paedophile elite class, a core QAnon tenet.

Dalai Lama boy kiss
The 14th Dalai Lama telling a young boy to ‘suck my tongue’ at an event in late February (Image: Supplied)

Conspiracy theorists and the far right have seized on the Dalai Lama’s viral “suck my tongue” controversy as proof of their far-fetched claims about the world being run by an elite cabal of paedophiles, a core tenet of the QAnon movement.

The 14th Dalai Lama took the unusual step of tweeting an apology note on Monday after videos circulated of a public event where the Tibetan spiritual leader kissed a boy and then asked him to “suck his tongue”.

“His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras. He regrets the incident”, the note read. 

The video of the February event had begun circulating around social media in early April, drawing confusion and outrage over the inappropriate interaction. Sticking out your tongue is a traditional greeting in Tibet and archival photos show that the Dalai Lama has a history of greeting with a kiss. 

But for fringe figures and groups around the world who widely shared the videos on social media, the video is supposed evidence of their conspiracy theory that many of the world’s leaders are paedophiles. This belief is a key part of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which believes that Donald Trump will defeat this cabal of Satanic cannibals. 

The video and articles covering the Dalai Lama’s kiss and comments have been excitedly shared in Australian and global online conspiracy spaces seen by Crikey. Viral tweets about the controversy from now-deleted Twitter account @JoostBroekers (whose bio “My favorite part of being a ‘conspiracy theorist’ is not having myocarditis” is a reference to a common anti-vaccine trope) were repeatedly cited in mainstream publications and viewed millions of times. The account repeatedly hinted at the conspiracy theory by tweeting “Now why would he [the Dalai Lama] do that?”

Others explicitly called the Dalai Lama a child sex abuser. Far-right misinformation superspreader and online radio broadcaster Stew Peters called him “clearly pedo inclined”. Oli London, a controversial English internet personality turned anti-trans campaigner who has appeared on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson show, called for the Dalai Lama to be arrested and charged with sexual assault. English counter-extremism expert turned conspiracy theorist Maajid Nawaz said the clip showed how the world’s leaders are controlled by a “global cabal of psychopaths who facilitate their depravity in exchange for control”. The conservative Christian satirical website Babylon Bee published an article titled “Dalai Lama Inundated With Requests From Public Libraries To Lead Story Hours”, alluding to the far-right trope linking the LGBTQIA+ community and drag performers with paedophilia.

Even the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka weighed in on the moment and reiterated its previous claims that the Dalai Lama is “absolutely not a simple monk”, this time accusing him of being a paedophile. (China has a long history of attacking the Dalai Lama for his role in promoting Tibet as a free country.)  

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