Egypt has taken the unusual step of urging the U.S. to exercise restraint in dealing with racially charged demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri.
Echoing language Washington used to caution the Cairo government as it cracked down on Islamist protesters last year, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said it was ‘closely following’ the escalation of violent protests following the shooting dead by police of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.
It is highly unusual for Egypt to criticise such a major donor, and it was not immediately clear why the government would have taken such a step at this stage.
The development came as ISIS militants used social media to encourage protesters in Ferguson to embrace radical Islam and fight against the U.S. government.
Ties between Washington and Cairo were strained after Egyptian security forces killed hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters following the army’s ousting of freely elected President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
Western allies have voiced concern about the democratic credentials of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the army chief who toppled Mursi and went on to win elections.
The United States has, however, continued to provide military and other support to Cairo.
In a statement released today, however, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry’s urged the U.S. government to exercise restraint when dealing with the Ferguson protesters.
The wording of the statement read similarly to a message issued by Barack Obama’s administration in July 2013, when the White House ‘urged security forces to exercise maximum restraint and caution’ in dealing with demonstrations by Morsi supporters.
Egypt today said it was ‘closely following the escalation of protests’ in Ferguson, which began after the fatal shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old black teenager Michael Brown by white policeman Darren Wilson, 28, on August 9.
Nine days of violent protests have since taken place, with demonstrators shooting at police at officers criticised for a ‘heavy handed’ effort to disperse the crowds.
Human Rights Watch said in a report last week that Egyptian security forces systematically used excessive force against Islamist protesters after Morsi was ousted in 2013.
Egypt said the report was ‘characterised by negativity and bias’.
News of Egypt’s intervention in the protests come as ISIS militants and their supporters used social media to encourage demonstrators to embrace radical Islam and fight against the U.S. government.
Jihadists in Syria and Iraq and their sympathisers in the West have taken to Twitter to send messages of support to hundreds of demonstrators taking part in a ninth night of angry protests.
The militants’ tweets denounce local officers for the way they have attempted to quell the violence, make reference to historic acts of police brutality, and even use the hashtag #FergusonUnderISIS in an attempt to get angry young men in the city to declare allegiance to the Islamist group.
Additionally, footage purportedly taken from the scene of the Ferguson protests appeared to show one demonstrator marching along a street holding a sign reading ‘ISIS is here’.
One ISIS sympathiser calling himself Mujahid Miski, who claims to be from Minneapolis–Saint Paul but suggests he is now based in ‘the horn of Africa’, has led the campaign to encourage those taking part in the protests to embrace radical Islam.
In one message he tweets: ‘So how is democracy treating you guys? #FergusonUnderIS #Ferguson.
He adds: ‘I thought u guys back in #Ferguson were supposed to be Free & that u had equal rights. I’d really like to know what changed? #FergusonUnderIS’.
Miski goes on to retweet dozens of messages by a Twitter user with the handle @AmreekiWitness, who claims to monitor and support the growth of radical Islam in the U.S..
Amreeki Witness’ messages focus on the treatment of black people in the U.S., praise Malcolm X for embracing Islam and urge angry young black men to take up the religion as it means the police ‘will fear you’.
In one message Amreeki Witness mocks the curfew police have imposed in Ferguson to bring an end to the disorder, saying: ‘We IS guys hate you for your freedom, eh? Just like that freedom uplifting curfew in #Ferguson? Wake up, or they’ll never let you outside.’
As the social media campaign began to take hold, with dozens of radical Islamists commenting on the Ferguson protests, Amreeki Witness tweeted: ‘May be time to organize the Muslims in America upon haqq and mobilize to #Ferguson. Defend the oppressed, start jihad here.’
The message attracted a large response, with one Islamist calling himself Amarka Al-Ahlam responding: ‘Preach, brother. We must organize brigades in preparation for the oncoming storm. #FergusonUnderIS #JihadinFerguson.’
Amreeki Witness added: ‘They cower in fear of us whilst they massacre and oppress you! It’s time to strike fear into the hearts of the oppressors. #FergusonUnderIS’.
News of the militants’ campaign to encourage Ferguson demonstrators to embrace radical Islamism comes as footage purportedly from a CNN live stream of the protests appeared to show one young man holding a sign reading ‘ISIS is here.’
It is not known whether the banner – footage of which has not yet been independently verified – was in support of the militant group or, as seems more likely, it was an attempt to compare ISIS to the local police force or the U.S. government.
Nevertheless stills of the alleged CNN footage were embraced by jihadists who have claimed they prove jihadists are already playing their part in the protests.
Chilling images of the alleged ISIS banner being carried by demonstrators have been widely shared by ISIS sympathisers on social media, who have used them to encourage supporters based in America to travel to Ferguson to further stoke the violence in the city.
News of ISIS’ attempt to hijack the Ferguson protests come as Palestinian Twitter users sent messages of support to the demonstrators and gave advice on the best way to cope with the tear gas police are using to disperse crowds.
As images emerged of heavily armed police and armoured tanks on the streets of nearby St Louis, many Palestinian Twitter users expressed their solidarity with demonstrators.
The messages of support from Palestinians come amid reports that many of the Ferguson protesters were heard chanting ‘Gaza Strip’ as they marched through the heart of the city.
Source: The Daily Mail