World leaders condemn ‘assault on democracy’ at US Capitol
World leaders and governments on Wednesday expressed shock and outrage at the storming of the US Capitol in Washington by supporters of President Donald Trump.
– Britain –
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Twitter condemned the “disgraceful scenes in U.S. Congress. The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power”.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab added in his own tweet: “The US rightly takes great pride in its democracy, and there can be no justification for these violent attempts to frustrate the lawful and proper transition of power.”
– European Union –
The EU’s foreign policy chief condemned an “assault on US democracy”.
“In the eyes of the world, American democracy tonight appears under siege,” Josep Borrell tweeted.
Calling the action an “assault on US democracy, its institutions and the rule of law”, he added: “This is not America. The election results of 3 November must be fully respected.”
– France –
French leader Emmanuel Macron said: “We will not give in to the violence of a few who want to question” democracy.
In a video posted on his official Twitter account, he added: “What happened today in Washington is not American”.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also condemned “a serious attack on democracy”.
– Germany –
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called on Trump supporters to “stop trampling on democracy”.
“Trump and his supporters should finally accept the decision of American voters and stop trampling on democracy,” Maas tweeted.
“The enemies of democracy will be pleased to see these incredible images from Washington DC,” he added. “Inflammatory words turn into violent actions.”
German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who is also the vice chancellor, likewise condemned the “disturbing images” from Washington.
– Canada –
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that the scenes at the US Capitol were an “attack on democracy.”
“Canadians are deeply disturbed and saddened by the attack on democracy in the United States, our closest ally and neighbour,” he said.
– Australia –
Australian PM Scott Morrison condemned the “very distressing scenes” in the US.
“We condemn these acts of violence and look forward to a peaceful transfer of Government to the newly elected administration in the great American democratic tradition,” he tweeted.
– New Zealand –
Jacinda Ardern tweeted: “Democracy – the right of people to exercise a vote, have their voice heard and then have that decision upheld peacefully should never be undone by a mob.”
The PM added her country’s thoughts were with everyone “devastated” by today’s events, adding: “what is happening is wrong.”
– NATO –
“Shocking scenes in Washington, DC,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg tweeted. “The outcome of this democratic election must be respected.”
– The Netherlands –
“Horrible images from Washington D.C. Dear @realDonaldTrump, recognise @JoeBiden as the next president today,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Twitter.
The plain-speaking Rutte once during a visit to the White House in 2018 interrupted Trump with a loud “no” when Trump made an assertion about EU-US trade.
– Ireland –
Irish premier Micheal Martin, who has invited the Irish-American Biden to visit his ancestral homeland early in his presidency, tweeted his condemnation.
“The Irish people have a deep connection with the United States of America, built up over many generations. I know that many, like me, will be watching the scenes unfolding in Washington DC with great concern and dismay,” Martin said.
– India –
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Trump ally who has heaped praise on the outgoing US president in the past, said he was “distressed to see news about rioting and violence” in Washington.
“Orderly and peaceful transfer of power must continue. The democratic process cannot be allowed to be subverted through unlawful protests,” the Hindu nationalist leader tweeted.
– Greece –
“Extremely troubled by the violence and horrible events taking place in Washington D.C. American democracy is resilient, deeply rooted and will overcome this crisis,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a tweet.
– Turkey –
“We are following with concern the internal developments happening in the US,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.
“We call on all parties in the US to maintain restrain and prudence. We believe the US will overcome this internal political crisis in a mature manner.”
– Austria –
“This is an unacceptable assault on democracy. A peaceful and orderly transfer of power must be ensured,” said Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Twitter.
– Czech Republic –
Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said in a tweet: “The looting and violence at the US Senate are not a good example for countries where democracy is fighting hard for a place in the sun. Given the emotions sparked by the US presidential election, we could expect today’s session to be far from ordinary. Where were the police and the Senate bodyguards…?”
– Denmark –
“Extremism, violence, polarization and violence is never the way forward. Terrible pictures from Washington. May democracy be brought back to working again,” Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Facebook
– Spain –
Spanish president Pedro Sanchez tweeted he was following events in Washington with “concern”.
“I trust in the strength of America’s democracy. The new Presidency of @JoeBiden will overcome this time of tension, uniting the American people.”
– Slovenia –
Slovenia’s right-wing Prime Minister Janez Jansa, who backed Trump and who has yet to congratulate Biden on his victory, tweeted: “All should be very troubled by the violence taking place in Washington D.C.”
“We hope American democracy is resilient, deeply rooted and will overcome this crisis. Democracy presupposes peaceful protest, but violence and death threats —from Left or Right— are ALWAYS wrong.”
– Fiji –
The prime minister of Fiji Frank Bainimarama — who lead a coup in 2006 and was accused of assaulting an opposition lawmaker in 2019 — added his condemnation.
“The violent scenes we saw in Washington today are an affront to democracies around the globe. True and genuine democracy is a precious treasure that no nation should ever take for granted,” he tweeted.
American democracy is “limping on both feet” after the storming of the US Capitol by Donald Trump supporters, a senior Russian lawmaker said Thursday.
Konstantin Kosachyov, the chair of the Russian upper house’s foreign affairs committee, said the stunning events in the US capital showed that Washington had no right to lecture other countries on democracy.
“The losing side has more than enough grounds to accuse the winner of falsifications — it is clear that American democracy is limping on both feet,” Kosachyov said in a post on Facebook.
“The celebration of democracy has ended. It has, unfortunately, hit rock bottom, and I say this without a hint of gloating.
“America no longer charts the course and so has lost all right to set it. And, even more so, to impose it on others.”
Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, said Thursday that the chaos unleashed on the US Capitol by US counterpart Donald Trump’s supporters exposed the fragility of Western democracy.
“What we saw in the United States yesterday (Wednesday) evening and today shows above all how fragile and vulnerable Western democracy is,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast by state television.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday she was “furious and saddened” by the storming of the US Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump and said the president shared blame for the unrest.
“I deeply regret that President Trump has not conceded his defeat, since November and again yesterday,” she said.
“Doubts about the election outcome were stoked and created the atmosphere that made the events of last night possible.”
UN heads ‘saddened’, ‘deeply concerned’ by US Capitol violence
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and president of the General Assembly Volkan Bozkir both condemned Wednesday’s violence at the US Capitol.
Guterres, according to his spokesman Stephane Dujarric, was “saddened” by the breach of the US Capitol building by supporters of outgoing US President Donald Trump.
“In such circumstances, it is important that political leaders impress on their followers the need to refrain from violence, as well as to respect democratic processes and the rule of law,” Dujarric said in a statement.
Former Turkish minister Bozkir pointed out the particular relationship between the UN and the United States as the organization’s host country.
“Deeply concerned by violence at the Capitol in #WashingtonDC and the interruption of the democratic process in the UN’s host country,” he tweeted.
Another tweet from Bozkir’s office’s official account repeated the sentiment.
“The US is one of the world’s major democracies,” it said. “I believe that peace & respect for democratic processes will prevail in our host country at this critical time.”
Former US presidents denounce Capitol violence
Every living former US president on Wednesday denounced the violence of a mob that stormed the Capitol building in Washington, forcing lawmakers to flee to safety and leaving one woman dead.
The crowd, made up of supporters of President Donald Trump, opposed the certification underway in Congress of Joe Biden’s presidential election win in November.
George W. Bush called out fellow Republicans for fueling the “insurrection,” likening the situation to a “banana republic.”
“I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions and our law enforcement,” Bush’s statement said, in a barely veiled swipe at Trump.
Barack Obama also blamed Republicans and Trump, “who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election,” he said in a statement.
Trump’s most recent predecessor called the incident “a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation.”
“But we’d be kidding ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise,” Obama said, calling the events of the day “the consequences” of Trump and his supporters refusing to accept the results of last year’s election.
Bill Clinton denounced the riot as “unprecedented assault” on the US Capitol and the nation itself.
“Today we faced an unprecedented assault on our Capitol, our Constitution, and our country,” the Democratic former president said in a statement.
“The match was lit by Donald Trump and his most ardent enablers, including many in Congress, to overturn the results of an election he lost.”
And the oldest member of the exclusive club, 96-year-old Democrat Jimmy Carter, said he was “troubled” by Wednesday’s scenes, which he called a “national tragedy.”
“We join our fellow citizens in praying for a peaceful resolution so our nation can heal and complete the transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries,” he said in a statement.
Twitter limits reach of tweets stoking US Capitol unrest
Twitter on Wednesday began limiting the reach of tweets stoking an assault on the US Capitol by a mob intent on overturning the election results.
“We have been significantly restricting engagement with tweets labeled under our Civic Integrity Policy due to the risk of violence,” the Twitter support team said.
“This means these labeled tweets will not be able to be replied to, retweeted, or liked.”
Twitter and other social platforms were facing challenges amid the unrest after President Donald Trump, a fervent Twitter user, had rallied supporters in the capital city as Congress was set to certify the November election won by Joe Biden.
A Trump video clip posted atop his official Twitter account was tagged with a note saying the claim of voter fraud was disputed, and that the tweet could not be replied to, retweeted, or liked “due to a risk of violence.”
Facebook did not reply to a query whether the social network is taking any steps to stop from being used to praise or exacerbate the mayhem in DC.
A look at rival social network Parler showed posts lauding the mob assault on the Capitol.
“Disappointing. Pelosi, Schiff, Nadler, Schumer, Romney all got away. DC is a target rich environment,” read a post at an @Macholatte account.
“Hope to see some of the DemonRat residences getting torched.”
An account from the militia group Proud Boys at Parler posted a photo of a smiling man, apparently in the Capitol building, carrying a podium.
Another Parler post hurled insults at Vice President Mike Pence, including calling him a “traitor” for refusing to overturn the November election results.
Conservatives backing Trump have expanded their online platforms to include alternative social media sites which have refrained from filtering unverified claims.
Twitter, Facebook block Trump over Capitol attack posts
Twitter and Facebook suspended Donald Trump on Wednesday over posts accused of inflaming violence in the US Capitol, as social media scrambled to respond to mayhem by supporters buying into his baseless attacks on the integrity of the election.
The unprecedented sanctions came after the president took to social media to repeat his numerous false claims about fraud and other impropriety in the election he lost to Joe Biden.
“This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures, including removing President Trump’s video,” said Facebook vice president of integrity Guy Rosen.
“We removed it because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.”
Facebook barred Trump from posting at the social network or its Instagram service for 24 hours, saying his messages were promoting violence.
Trump’s falsehoods, ranging from specific allegations to broad conspiracy theories, also prompted Facebook to change a label added to posts aiming to undermine the election results.
The new label reads: “Joe Biden has been elected president with results that were certified by all 50 states. The US has laws, procedures, and established institutions to ensure the peaceful transfer of power after an election.”
An activist group calling itself a mock Facebook oversight board said sanctions against Trump at the social network were long overdue.
“This is too little, too late,” the group said in a statement.
“Donald Trump has breached Facebook’s own terms and conditions multiple times. His account is not just a threat to democracy but to human life.”
– Permanent Twitter ban? –
The crackdown came after Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol in an attack that led to one woman being shot and killed by police, interrupting congressional debate over Biden’s election victory.
The assault came after the president had urged supporters to march on the seat of government during a speech outside the White House in which he alleged baselessly that the election had been stolen from him.
He later released a video on social media in which he repeated the false claim — even telling the mob “I love you.”
YouTube removed the video in line with its policy barring claims challenging election results.
Twitter said Trump’s messages were violations of the platform’s rules on civic integrity and that any future violations “will result in permanent suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account.”
The messaging platform said Trump’s account would be locked for 12 hours and that if the offending tweets were not removed, “the account will remain locked.”
Facebook said it would search for and remove content which praised the storming of the Capitol or encouraged the violence.
The platform said it would seek to take down additional calls for protests, including peaceful ones, if they violated a curfew imposed by the city of Washington, or any attempts to “re-stage” the storming of Congress.
“The violent protests in the Capitol today are a disgrace,” a Facebook spokesperson said.
“We prohibit incitement and calls for violence on our platform. We are actively reviewing and removing any content that breaks these rules.”
Facebook maintained that it was in contact with law enforcement officials and continued to enforce bans on QAnon conspiracy group, militarized social movements, and hate groups.
A #StormTheCapitol hashtag was blocked at Facebook and Instagram, according to the internet titan.
‘Democracy under siege’: International press condemn Trump
The chaos unleashed on the US Capitol by Donald Trump’s supporters dominated front pages across the world Thursday, with headlines such as “Trump sets fire to Washington”, “Democracy under siege”, and “The Coup of Madness”.
For the most part the international press laid the blame squarely at the outgoing president’s feet, accusing him of having encouraged the violence.
In Britain, “Trump supporters storm heart of American democracy” was the headline in The Times, describing how, “Democrats and Republicans alike pulled on gas masks and sheltered under desks and staff hid in offices.”
“Democracy under siege”, wrote The Daily Telegraph, reporting “unprecedented scenes of violence and chaos” in Washington as “hordes of Trump supporters” stormed the Capitol.
For The Guardian, it represented “the most dramatic challenge to the US democratic system since the civil war”.
– “Day of shame” –
“Chaos” and “shame” were words that came up again and again in the main European newspapers.
Die Welt led an editorial by its correspondent Clemens Wergin with “Day of shame for American democracy”.
“The US has experienced its first tentative violent coup d’etat”, he wrote, adding that “the president, his lies, and a spineless Republican party are politically responsible”.
Süddeutsche Zeitung, under the headline “The coup of madness”, also talked of “Washington’s shame”, while in Spain, El Pais wrote that Trump had “encouraged the chaos”.
The Italian daily La Repubblica went even further, drawing a parallel with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s ascension to power in the 1920s.
“America — all of America — watched on in horror as the equivalent of The March on Rome unfolded in Washington on live television — the invasion of the Capitol, the attack on democracy’s sacredness itself”, began Mario Platero’s article.
La Corriere della Serra delved into the profile of the Trump-supporting Proud Boys — “right-wing extremists, but also women, and young people. Called upon directly by Trump. Who then tried to dial down the pressure on television: ‘We are the party of law and order.’ But too late.”
“Trump: a strategy of chaos” was the front page of French daily Liberation, reinforcing the point in its inside pages with the title “Trump sets fire to Washington.”
“Donald Trump’s assault on American democracy became concrete as well as symbolic on Wednesday, when supporters of his, worked up into a white-hot rage by his speech, managed to break into the Capitol,” the article read.
– “Narcissism” –
In Le Figaro, columnist Philippe Gelie reflected that “Donald Trump could have come out on top — as a strong “president of the people” with a contested, but not negligable, record. Instead of that, his narcissism got the better of his dignity; he has manhandled institutions, trampled on democracy, divided his camp and thrown his presidency in a ditch.”
“The United States has fallen to the level of Latin-American countries”, was the self-deprecating observation from the Brazilian O Globo.
“The target was the Capitol, not the Twin Towers, but this was also terrorism,” Eliane Cantanhêde wrote in O Estado de S. Paulo, another Brazilian paper. “Domestic terrorism, internal, against the Capitol, the flames fanned by President Donald Trump himself.”
Egyptian daily Al-Ahram wrote that the scenes showed “the sacrifice of American democracy, the death of its liberty, and the plummeting of the values it has ceaselessly tried to export around the world and used as a reason to interfere in other countries’ affairs”.