How world leaders responded to the attack on the US Capitol

How world leaders responded to the attack on the US Capitol
Source: Stephanie Keith, Reuters
After the dust settled and world leaders had time to assess the unprecedented situation at the US Capitol, many expressed their horror while others continued to back Trump.

The events that took place on Wednesday, January 6, rocked the world.

Supporters of President Donald Trump marched to the United States Capitol and breached the building’s security. The mob intended to stop the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election from taking place, with both Houses of Congress inside the building at the time.

After the dust settled and world leaders had time to assess the unprecedented situation at the US Capitol, many expressed their horror while others continued to back Trump.

European far-right breaks with Trump

Nigel Farage, the leader of the Reform Party (formerly the Brexit Party), offered a short tweeted response. “Storming Capitol Hill is wrong. The protesters must leave.”

In an interview with France 4, Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Rally party responded, “I consider that in a democracy, we have the right to protest and demonstrate, but peacefully. Any act of violence that aims to undermine the democratic process is unacceptable, and I was very shocked at the images on Capitol Hill.”

In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders, leader of the Nationalist Party for Freedom, expressed shock at the scenes unfolding at the Capitol Building. “The rule of law is stronger than violence,” he tweeted. “America stands for liberty and freedom, and democracy will always prevail. And the outcome of democratic elections should always be respected, whether you win or lose.”

“I supported the ideas and positions of the Republicans, of the conservatives, of Trump,” said far-right League party leader Matteo Salvini. “But a legitimate vote is one thing, going to parliament and clashing with the police is quite a different matter. That’s not political vision, that’s madness.”

Other world leaders

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, often thought of as a Trump ally, was quick to condemn the attacks. “Disgraceful scenes in U.S. Congress,” he tweeted. “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.”

In a recorded address, French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron said, “What happened today in Washington, DC, is not America.” He offered hope at the end of his speech, saying, “We believe in the strength of our democracies. We believe in the strength of American democracy.”

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonary offered support to Trump and his supporters, warning the same may happen in Brazilian elections. “Basically, what was … the cause of the whole crisis? The lack of confidence in the vote,” adding, “Here, in Brazil, if you have electronic voting, it will be the same. Fraud exists.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany connected the mob’s actions with Trump’s refusal to accept his loss.

“I deeply regret that since November, President Trump has not accepted that he lost, and did not do so again yesterday.” Merkel added, “He stoked uncertainties about the election outcome, and that created an atmosphere that made the events of last night possible.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the riots alongside US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, but did not mention Trump in his condemnation of the attacks,

“The rampage at the capital yesterday was a disgraceful act and it must be vigorously condemned. I have no doubt that American democracy will prevail. It always has.” Later in the speech, Netanyahu thanked Trump for all that he had done for the Israeli government.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted, “Canadians are deeply disturbed and saddened by the attack on democracy in the United States, our closest ally and neighbour. Violence will never succeed in overruling the will of the people. Democracy in the US must be upheld – and it will be.”

China compares attacks to Hong Kong protests

Many Chinese authorities were quick to compare the attacks at the nation’s capital with the Hong Kong protests. In June of 2019, a small group of activists stormed Hong Kong’s legislature, shattering glass and spray painting the walls.

Ann Chiang of the DAB party, a conservative, pro-Beijing party, shared a video of the riots on Facebook. She declared it a “beautiful site to behold,” echoing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s comments referring to the Hong Kong Protests. Chiang added, “Today Pelosi’s office was occupied as well, American lawmakers can finally experience this democratic violence, and get a taste of what it is like for the legislature to be occupied.”

Qingqing Chen, chief reporter of Global Times News, a Chinese state-run media outlet, tweeted, “When Trump supporters storm Capitol, they are called as ‘mob’ but we’ve seen exactly the similar scenario happened in #HongKong #LegCo in 2019.”

President-elect Biden’s response

Biden, who was confirmed as the winner of the 2020 election in a largely ceremonial electoral college certification process later that evening, offered a stern rebuke to the events at the Capitol building.

“The past four years, we’ve had a president who’s made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law clear in everything he has done,” he said in a recorded address. “He unleashed an all-out assault on our institutions of our democracy from the outset. And yesterday was the culmination of that unrelenting attack.”

Biden will be sworn-in on January 20 under significantly heightened security. But the events of last Wednesday have deeply shaken trust in US democracy around the world.

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