Twitterfeud between Belgian virologist and Covid skeptic placed on thousands of billboards
A screenshot of a Twitter conversation between Belgian virologist Marc van Ranst and Dutch coronavirus skeptic Willem Engel was published as part of an advertising campaign on over 2,000 digital billboards in the Netherlands. The money to fund the advertisements was collected during a crowdfunding campaign by Blendle founder, Alexander Klöpping.
Klöpping started the campaign on Wednesday after the virologist had to go into hiding. Van Ranst had received death threats by a Jurgen Conings, a man in the Belgian Army believed to have extreme right-wing viewpoints.
Engel reacted to the threats against Van Ranst on Twitter stating that the virologist caused the coronavirus situation to develop "to the point that he is now extremely hated”. Engel, a dance instructor who runs anti-lockdown group Viruswaarheid, said he was against anyone making threats, but that Van Ranst was responsible for what he described as the “fear pandemic”.
Wie doet er mee als ik een crowdfunding campagne start om deze thread op abri's te zetten pic.twitter.com/PSN0s0dUgW— Alexander Klöpping (@AlexanderNL) May 19, 2021
Van Ranst responded by saying, “When we are confronted with a salsa pandemic I will listen to what you, as a dance teacher, have to say.” Until that point, the virologist said he could not care less what Engel has to say, “and the Netherlands should not either.”
According to Klöpping, the Twitter thread between Engel and Van Ranst deserved “the largest possible publicity”. Therefore, he launched a crowdfunding campaign in support of the virologist. “If the conversation is visible in countless bus stations, then even more people get to see the quick wit of Van Ranst. And maybe they will scratch their heads more about Willem Engel”, Klöpping said in an interview on NPO Radio 1.
The target of two thousand euros for financing the billboard advertisements was reached in less than an hour.
After one day, Klöpping cut off the campaign. By that time over 25 thousand euros had been donated. “In the coming days, the thread will be shown in more than two thousand places in the Netherlands. From petrol stations to bus shelters, from shopping centers to Schiphol”, the Blendle founder wrote about the campaign.