The death of teenager Michael Brown at the hands of a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., has been getting plenty of attention beyond U.S. borders, and Arabic-language media is no exception. It has made Ferguson front-page news, while Twitter users have transliterated "Ferguson" into an Arabic hashtag.
A recent Al Jazeera article, filed under its website's "human rights" section, focused principally on comments from top UN human rights official Navi Pillay about the events in Ferguson. Originally from South Africa, Pillay said in an interview earlier this week that "there are many parts of the United States where apartheid is flourishing."
Commenters on the Al Jazeera article variously offered legal suggestions and lamented the failure of what one described as "civilized America … number one in freedoms and human rights." One reader insisted that the only solution in the Ferguson case was to pursue the death penalty for the officer involved. Others elaborated on what they viewed as further manifestations of America's racism.
One commenter linked America's support for Israel to the "racism that underlies each country." Another described America's treatment of Native American Indians as "one of the great curiosities of our age," saying they are forced "to live on reserves like wild animals."
An Algerian commenter argued that the source of American racism lay in the original of Americans. "American people came from Europe, fleeing from hunger, poverty and misery. ... We all know when the poor man becomes rich what he will do to those who were like him."
Twitter users have been equally vocal about Ferguson, retweeting photos and links to videos of the shooting aftermath and of protests. Some Arabic-language users echoed refrains from the Arab Spring, such as this young man: “#Ferguson: Down, down with military rule!”
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— ÙØ§Ø±Ø³ Ø§Ù„ÙØ§Ø±Ø³ (@Lettermore_) August 22, 2014
Others went so far as to directly link events in struggling Egypt to what's happening in Ferguson. This photoshopped image of protesters from Ferguson shows one young woman holding a sign with a mantra of Arab Spring activists, "Dear Obama … the revolution is not finished."
One young Egyptian woman put it plainly:
— nouran diaa elsayed (@nourandiaa63) August 17, 2014
In line with intense international concern over the destruction of churches in Egypt and the violent persecutions of Christians in Iraq, other Twitter users retweeted an image of Ferguson's Greater Saint Mark's Church. "American police raid a church in #Ferguson under the pretext that the protesters were sleeping there, despite the fact that pastors confirmed that the site was a field hospital," the Twitter account of a Kuwaiti news site explained.
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— Ø¬Ù‡ÙŠÙ†Ø© Ø§Ù„Ø¥Ù„ÙƒØªØ±ÙˆÙ†ÙŠØ© (@johenaq8) August 21, 2014