20 August 2014

Egypt: U.S. Respects Egypt's Freedom to 'Weigh On' Ferguson Protests

Cairo — The United States respects Egypt's right to "weigh on" the protests prevailing in the American town of Ferguson in Missouri, U.S.State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Tuesday.

During the daily State Department press briefing, Harf stressed that "people are free to say what they'd like."

The U.S. has been facing wide criticism from several countries over the violence which has recently prevailed in Ferguson.

On Tuesday, Egypt's ministry of foreign affairs said it agrees with United Nations' Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's call for "self restraint" in the protests. The foreign ministry indirectly urged American law enforcement officials to abide by "U.S. and international standards in dealing with demonstrations."

"When we [in the U.S.] have issues here, [we] confront them ... we would call on other countries to do the same," Harf said. She added that Egypt has failed to respect other countries' freedom of expression regarding its domestic affairs.

Egypt's relations with the U.S. have been tense since the military ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July 2013. Mursi's ouster was followed by a strong wave of violence which left hundreds of Mursi supporters killed and thousands arrested, often strongly condemned by the U.S.

Harf refused to compare between the U.S. critique to the Egyptian government and the latter's latest criticism regarding the Ferguson violence.

"We have very serious concerns about the human rights situation [in Egypt] ... over the last year," Harf said. "So that's a completely separate issue. We make clear our feelings on these issues when we have them."

Thousands of demonstrators have been filling the streets of Ferguson in protest over the shooting of an unarmed African American teenager at the hands of a white policeman on August 9. Protests have led to questioning whether the incident reflects a larger trend of local police excesses.

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