For years, the Egyptian government has been condemned by international human rights organizations for its use of force to quell public demonstrations. But now, the government responsible for killing at least 800 protesters in one day is urging authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, to exercise restraint.
The statement by the Egyptian government, issued Tuesday, comes after more than a week of violent clashes between security forces and residents of Ferguson in the wake of the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer. Egypt said it was "closely following the escalation of protests."
The United States, the biggest financier of Egypt's military government, issued statements about the use of force by Egyptian authorities during protests and sit-ins last summer following the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi. In August 2013, tens of thousands of Egyptians set up camps to protest the removal from power of the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood-backed president by a military junta, hoping their presence would force the interim Egyptian government to restore Morsi's presidency.
Egyptian security forces killed more than 800 people in Rabaa, one of the largest camps, to try to quell the protests, which Human Rights Watch said lasted 45 days. A report released last week by Human Rights Watch says the Rabaa killings constituted a crime against humanity under international law. The organization found the event was "one of the world's largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history."
The political relationship between Cairo and Washington has grown increasingly volatile in recent days as a result of peace talks being hosted by Egypt to end the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Egyptian and Israeli media have accused U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry of siding with Qatar and Turkey, who both support the Hamas government in Gaza.
The protests in Ferguson are gaining international attention as journalists from across the world have flocked to the town to cover the clashes. Residents of Ferguson late Monday faced off with security forces, who said they came under heavy gunfire from protesters.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is headed to Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with officials working on the Department of Justice investigation into Brown's death.