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Ferguson As 'America's Spring'

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!”

#�يرجسون يسقط يسقط حكم العسكر �

— Ù�ارس الÙ�ارس (@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:

Time for a revolution in the USA let it be the #americanspring#�يرجسون#Ferguson#FergusonShooting#Ferguson livestream

— 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.

الشرطة الامريكية تداهم كنيسة �ي #�يرجسون بحجة ان المتظاهرين ينامون بها مع ان القساوسة أكدوا انه مستش�ى ميداني . pic.twitter.com/8FkiJgwySn

— جهينة الإلكترونية (@johenaq8) August 21, 2014

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Society

How India’s Women Are Fighting Air Pollution — And The Patriarchy

India is one of the world's worst countries for air pollution, with women more likely to be affected by the problem than men. Now, experts and activists are fighting to reframe pollution as a gendered health crisis.

A woman walking through dense fog in New Delhi

*Saumya Kalia

MUMBAI In New Delhi, a city that has topped urban air-pollution charts in recent years, Shakuntala describes a discomfort that has become too familiar. Surrounded by bricks and austere buildings, she tells an interviewer: "The eyes burn and it becomes difficult to breathe". She is referring to the noxious fumes she routinely breathes as a construction worker.

Like Shakuntala, women’s experiences of polluted air fill every corner of their lives – inside homes, in parks and markets, on the way to work. Ambient air in most districts in India has never been worse than it is today. As many as 1.67 million people in the country die prematurely due to polluted air. It is India’s second largest health risk after malnutrition.

This risk of exposure to air pollution is compounded for women. Their experiences of toxic air are more frequent and often more hazardous. Yet “policies around air quality have not yet adequately taken into account gender or other factors that might influence people’s health,” Pallavi Pant, a senior scientist at the Health Effects Institute, a nonprofit in the U.S., told The Wire Science.

“It’s unacceptable that the biggest burden [rests on] those who can least bear it,” Sherebanu Frosh, an activist, added. People like her are building a unique resistance within India.

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