The World’s Dictators Love the Unrest in Ferguson

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Aug. 19 2014 1:08 PM

The World’s Dictators Love the Unrest in Ferguson

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Law enforcement officers monitor a protest in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 18, 2014.

Photo by Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images

With tear gas and military hardware hitting the streets of an American city, the world’s dictatorships—which are typically on the receiving end of U.S. criticism for their crackdowns on public protest—are having a field day turning the tables on Washington. Egypt is the latest country to express its deep concern, reports the country’s English-language Daily News:

A spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, in response to a question from state-run news agency MENA, said the ministry is “following the escalation of protests and demonstrations in the city of Ferguson and reactions thereto”.
The spokesman referred to comments made by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on Monday as a reflection of the “international community’s position towards these events” including the calls for “restraint and respect for the right of assembly and peaceful expression of opinion”.
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The call for “restraint” definitely seems like a deliberate echo of the kind of language favored by the U.S. State Department during anti-government protests in Egypt.

The Egyptians are hardly alone. China’s state-run Xinhua news agency has editorialized that the “racial divide still remains a deeply-rooted chronic disease that keeps tearing U.S. society apart” and that “what the United States needs to do is to concentrate on solving its own problems rather than always pointing fingers at others.” Russia’s foreign ministry has urged “our American partners to pay more attention to restoring order in their own country before imposing their dubious experience on other nations.” Iran’s FARS news agency is devoting heavy coverage to the “war zone” in Ferguson

Obviously these are self-serving statements, and as bad as things have gotten in Missouri, it doesn’t in any way minimize or even contextualize the state-sponsored political repression in these countries.

But it certainly doesn’t hurt to look at events in America from the outside now and then.

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

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