Violence has escalated in the US city of Ferguson, Missouri after a police officer killed a black American teen. The young man was riddled with six bullets by a police officer after a shop owner accused him of stealing a cigar case. These minute details of the incident are not as important as the murder which took place, inspired by racial motives and enacted by an alleged representative of law and order. The young man was killed because he was black, and this is the common thought among all black American residents of Ferguson. But their reaction was not violence but instead peaceful demonstrations to protest the killing of Michael Brown.
The police tried to suppress the demonstrations by using tear gas grenades. However, the demonstrations grew more intense, and the state governor imposed a curfew on Ferguson and resorted to the National Guard troops in an attempt to quell the violence.
The unpleasant scene in Ferguson was enough for some countries to give the US administration advice on showing restraint and allowing freedom of expression and peaceful demonstrations. Even Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations Secretary General, asked the US government to respect the rights of peaceful demonstrations and free expression.
In my opinion, what is happening in Missouri is a practical response to US officials’ round-the-clock statements demanding world countries to respect human rights, freedom of expression and the right to peaceful demonstration. Not to mention dozens of US officials who give, with every breath they take, advice to one country or another. The incident in Missouri is a favourable opportunity for some countries to get even with Washington by drawing its attention to the necessity to respect human rights on American soil before tasking other countries to do so.
It was also an excellent opportunity for Egypt, which has had to put up with US arrogance and its blatant bias in favour of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization, and their criminal allies. Washington never stopped issuing statements accusing Egyptian authorities, especially the police and other security bodies, of using excessive force against peaceful demonstrators. Of course, the accusations were groundless simply because the police did not use excessive force and the demonstrators were armed to the teeth, which is far from being peaceful.
As a consequence of the US attitude, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling upon Washington to respect the right to freedom of expression and the right for peaceful demonstration. The statement also stressed that Cairo is closely following what is happening in Ferguson. Moreover, the police in Egypt offered advice to US police about how to deal with peaceful demonstrations. Obviously, the foreign and interior ministries’ statements indicate the strained relations between Egypt and the United States. The statements were a direct response to Washington’s attitude towards the 30 June revolution, its support of the Brotherhood, and the US’ daily statements on incidents occurring in Egypt while also accusing authorities of violating human rights.
In my estimation, the felicitous statements by the foreign and interior ministries will be viewed as a clear official stance from Egypt towards US domestic incidents. This is why the State Department Deputy Spokeswoman was tense in her reply to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry’s statement. She is actually closer to being tactless in her language.With all due respect to our Foreign Ministry and with a request to the Ministry of Interior, they should set an example in observing the law. The Ministry of Interior should strike the balance between preserving the state and citizens’ security while safeguarding human rights and personal freedoms.
Yet, the approach of the US’ domestic policy and its hypocritical manner in dealing with other countries shows that America still has a long road to face before reaching the demands they set on others, especially in terms of human rights and racial discrimination.
Emad Gad is vice president of Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.