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From Ugandan Corespondent Arinaitwe Rugyendo…
Why is the African Union silent on the pro-democracy demonstrators in London who are being referred to as hoodlums? The AU should call on the United Kingdom to respect the rights of the British people to exercise their right to demonstrate and freely express themselves. Those arrested should be subject to a just and due process of the law. The Met Police should stop using teargas and rubber bullets and or violently stopping the peaceful demonstrators. The UK is quick to preach democracy to African nations. It is now their turn to preach to the west some tenets of democracy and respect for human rights.
And On this one, I want to quote the news agencies-verbatim on the reactions from across the globe.
The riots in London have sparked shock around the world, with some countries issuing travel advisories for Britain and China blaming the UK’s “human rights violations”. Here is a round up of international reaction:
Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe: “Britain I understand is on fire, London especially and we hope they can extinguish their fire, pay attention to their internal problems and to that fire which is now blazing all over, and leave us alone
Riot-swept Britain is tasting the “bitter fruit” of its failure to introduce Chinese-style controls on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, Chinese state media crowed on Tuesday, while raising questions over whether London could be trusted to stage a safe 2012 Olympic Games.
“The West have been talking about supporting internet freedom, and oppose other countries’ government to control this kind of websites, now we can say they are tasting the bitter fruit [of their complacency] and they can’t complain about it,” wrote one commentator in official Communist Party mouthpiece, People’s Daily.
The conservative Resalat newspaper, in a commentary headlined “unrest spreads from Tottenham to Brixton”, called the protests the “worst possible news for David Cameron’s coalition government” and blamed “human rights abuses”.
“The violence and continued chaos in the UK are the result of factors like human rights violations in the country, prejudice against immigrants and coloured people, incidents like the Murdoch scandals and the country’s critical economic conditions,” the newspaper concluded.
The hardline Iranian newspaper claimed that the violence was carried out by students who were forced to drop out of university because of the rise in university tuition fees.
Germany issued a travel advisory for Britain, posting on the foreign ministry’s website: “Travelers are advised to be especially careful and to pull out at the first signs of riots, and follow instructions of security forces.”
Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe: “Britain I understand is on fire, London especially and we hope they can extinguish their fire, pay attention to their internal problems and to that fire which is now blazing all over, and leave us alone.
“We do not have any fire here and we do not want them to continue to create unnecessary problems in our country. We want peace, and the people of Zimbabwe want peace.”
The (obviously measured)US reacted with shock to Monday’s late-night scenes in London, which due to the time difference took place just in time for prime time television and early evening news bulletins. On Tuesday, the country’s biggest newspapers carried prominent coverage of the riots for a third consecutive day.
In a front-page story headlined “London unrest escalates, spreads”, the Washington Post wrote: “In the worst bout of urban violence to hit Britain in more than two decades, parts of London morphed into lawless no man’s lands. Most of a block in the Croydon neighbourhood erupted Monday night into an inferno that incinerated the 140-year-old Reeves furniture store, a south London landmark. After midnight Tuesday, an even larger fire tore through a Sony distribution centre on the other side of the city, in Enfield.
On its own front page, under the headline “Rioting widens in London on 3rd night of unrest”, The New York Times told its readers: “For Mr Cameron’s government – indeed for Britain – the rapidly worsening situation presented a profound challenge on several fronts. For a society already under severe economic strain, the rioting raised new questions about the political sustainability of the Cameron government’s spending cuts, particularly the deep cutbacks in social programs. These have hit the country’s poor especially hard, including large numbers of the minority youths who have been at the forefront of the unrest.”
Julia Gillard, the Australian prime minister: “I, like many other Australians, have been very, very disturbed to see the images coming out of London,” she said.
“There’s no excuse for the kind of violence we’re seeing on our TV screens.”
The troubles in London make the frontages of many of Spain’s national newspapers again on Tuesday. El Pais shows a photo taken in Hackney of riot police facing rioters as cars burn with the headline “The battle for London”. It states that “no part of London is safe from the violence” sparked by killing of Mark Duggen by police and recalls other cases such as Jean Charles de Menezes and Ian Tomlinson. In an editorial the newspaper said the coalition government had been “slow to react to the social and racial violence” spreading across London and that David Cameron’s credibility has faced a setback because of it.
In Portugal the London riots are also front page news. Jornal de Noticias carries a scene of riot police and burning vehicles in Hackney with the headline: “Violence spreads in London”.
A report on Afghan state TV said: “Massive demonstrations in London, the capital of Britain, and spread to three other cities. The biggest demonstrations were last night and the police have arrested more than 200 people. Thirty five police have been injured. It began when a young man was killed by the police. People have started burning cars and buildings and stealing from supermarkets. David Cameron has returned to London halfway through his summer holiday to solve this problem.”
The riots in London yesterday knocked violence in Karachi, where seven people were killed overnight, from the top slot on television bulletins in Pakistan, where suicide bombings, gang violence and political turfwars are a mainstay of the 24-hour news channels.
An editorial in the Express Tribune newspaper wondered how a killing could erupt into riots, when previous examples of police brutality have not. “The answer may be found in the austerity measures taken by the Cameron government,” it said.
In Russia, which has close business, financial and educational ties to London, the riots are rapidly moving up the news agenda. Most Russian commentators chose to see the trouble through the prism of what they said was Britain’s failed immigration policy. The state-owned Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper published a picture on its front page of a policeman walking past two burned out cars with the headline “Gangs have surrounded London”. It said that the worst affected areas were home to immigrants from the poorest countries in Africa and the Caribbean. The trouble was a repeat of rioting in Paris in 2006 and 2007, it added.
Tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda ran a comment piece from Sergei Markov, a prominent Russian MP from Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia Party. Mr Markov suggested that the riots were emblematic of Britain’s failed immigration policy. He wrote: “As well as maximum police strength, Britain needs consolidated political will. The authorities need to say clearly: if you want to live in England – get a job and become English. Otherwise go away.
The South African owner of a looted London restaurant yesterday described Britain’s capital as a war zone.
In an interview with the country’s City Press newspaper Odile Ham told how hooded thugs raided her Wimpy franchise during riots in Clapham on Monday night.
“It’s like a war,” she told the newspaper, adding: “When we drove to the restaurant to see what is going on we were faced people on the rampage in the street.”
Headlines in other newspapers and websites were also heavily dominated by Britain’s crisis. A report on Johannesburg’s 702 radio station described the Metropolitan police as ‘powerless’ to halt the civil disobedience. “Shock and disbelief are the order of the day in the capital, with rising anger about what has happened in the city since Saturday,” the station reported.
Zambia’s Post newspaper featured a report about the latest disorder illustrated by an image of a blazing London shop and headlined ‘PM to hold crisis talks on riots, clean up starts’.
Even newspapers on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius reported extensively on the riots. The country’s French-language Le Mauritian newspaper ran a striking image of a Metropolitan riot squad officer standing helpless by a burning car.
Reporting on how the unrest had spread outside the capital, its headline read: ‘Great Britain: After London, violence spreads to Liverpool and Birmingham’.
The National in Abu Dhabi reports that British politicians have condemned the riots in London, but notes that they are not as violent as recent protests in Athens.
Dubai’s Gulf News carries a brief comment piece which condemns the violence in London but concludes that it is the fault of the British authorities for marginalizing immigrant communities and calls for improved economic development and social integration policies in poorer areas.
Most Israeli newspapers do not cover the protests -of course they wouldn’t-(emphasis mine), but the Hebrew-language Maariv carries a story on its front page headlined “London in Flames” and notes that 450 people have been arrested.
Libyan state-run Al-Jamahiriyah TV showed a programme called “Homeland’s Desire”. The presenter, Yusuf Shakir, midway into the programme, began to address the British people in English, urging them to “defeat this British regime” which “killed their brothers”.
He said the Libyan people and their leader supported “black power in America and Britain” and always defended blacks who “suffered racial discrimination” in the UK.
He said blacks and the poor took to the streets in London to demonstrate against the British “fascist” government. He added that Libyans would hold demonstrations holding up pictures of Mark Duggan, the man shot by police in Tottenham. Source: BBC Monitoring
Social networking in Middle East
The London riots were followed in great detail by many Arab users of Twitter, the social network that played a very important role in the Arab Spring.
Many note the difference between the dignified and largely peaceful protesters who protected banks and shops from looters during the uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and elsewhere, contrasting them with the behaviour of those on the rampage in London.
“Protesters in these countries actually protected property of others & prevented looting despite huge numbers,” wrote one Twitter user going by the name of LibyaNewMedia.
Hisham Almiraat, a Moroccan doctor, had a different take, writing: “London rioters despicable, if only because they are stealing media attention away from where it really matters
The silent African Union should denounce the violence in Britain and call on authorities to respect the rights of PEACEFUL demonstrators!