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Foreign press ridicules U.S. police tactics in Ferguson

Iran, Russia and China are among countries attacking the United States for the police response to peaceful protest in Ferguson.

By Ed Adamczyk
Foreign press ridicules U.S. police tactics in Ferguson
Police stand in line with weapons drawn as protesters gather on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri on August 18, 2014. The actions by police have been ridiculed in the foreign press. UPI/Ray Jones | License Photo

MOSCOW, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Derision, aimed at police tactics in Ferguson, Mo., has become a regular part of news reports in countries with strong authoritarian backgrounds and weak histories of human rights protection.

Russia's state television stations frequently present the violent, chaotic situation in the U.S. town -- sparked by the alleged shooting of an unarmed black man by a police officer -- suggesting "extreme mayhem" and the probability that a civil war is about to occur in the United States.

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"Cases of racism are still not rare in the nation of exemplary democracy," the Rossiya 24 channel pointed out. A website of state-run RT, or Russian Television, displays footage from Ferguson showing heavily-armed police tossing tear gas canisters at demonstrators, as well as looted and burned businesses.

"These riots gently remind us that the black race has never been happy or well-treated in America," an editorial in Pravda pointed out Tuesday.

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The heavy police response to several days of protests and heightened tension in Ferguson was a point of comment by Konstantin Dolgov of Russia's Foreign Ministry, who said in a commentary:

"While urging other countries to guarantee the freedom of speech and not to suppress anti-government protests, the United States authorities at home are not too soft with those actively expressing discontent over persistent inequalities, actual discrimination and the situation of 'second class' citizens."

Writer Julia Ioffe said, in a New Republic article last week, that Moscow authorities typically counter criticism of Russia's human rights abuses with comparisons to racial inequality in the United States, noting, "The now sacred Russian tactic of 'whataboutism' started with civil rights. Whenever the U.S. pointed to Soviet human rights violations, the Soviets had an easy riposte. 'Well, you,' they said, 'lynch Negroes.'"

Meanwhile, broadcasts in Iran on state-run Press TV make regular mention of the use of force by police "to suppress protests in Ferguson," and comments by ruling cleric Ayatollah Ali Khamenei abound with references to the United States' complex racial history and a suggestion its citizens are suffering because of the U.S. government preoccupation with Israel.

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Egypt's state-run Ahram Online news website said Egypt "called on U.S. authorities to exercise restraint and deal with the protests in accordance with U.S. and international standards." The suggestion came several days after the first anniversary of a massacre in Cairo, in which up to 800 peaceful protesters were killed.

In addition, China's official Xinhua news agency commented on matters in Ferguson, saying, "The Ferguson incident once again demonstrates that even if in a country that has for years tried to play the role of an international human rights judge and defender, there is still much room for improvement at home. Obviously, what the United States needs to do is to concentrate on solving its own problems rather than always pointing fingers at others."

Even the press in normally pro-U.S. countries have noted the conflict on the streets of Ferguson, and are offering commentaries on U.S. racial matters.An editorial in the British newspaper The Guardian focused more on the consequences of economic inequality in the United States, though without noting similar problems in Britain:

"Missouri may be one of the most racist states in the country, as a Ferguson community activist claimed, pointing to racial profiling by the police and the struggle to find jobs.

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"But economic injustice and inequality simply institutionalizes those attitudes on the part of the white population, and creates frustration and anger on the part of the African American community. What we're witnessing today is the inevitable outcome of economic injustice."

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