Channel NewsAsia

Unrest in Ferguson puts the spotlight on America

As the violence in Ferguson continues, the story has grown from a local problem to international news. The worldwide coverage of the shooting of Michael Brown and its aftermath not only offers Americans a different viewpoint on the events, but also reveals a lot about the countries themselves.

WASHINGTON: Online discussion about the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri has spread across the Twitterverse and beyond. The issue took such a high profile globally that it was even mentioned at the United Nations. Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for the United Nations, said: "The secretary-general is aware that US federal authorities have announced an investigation into the killing of Michael Brown. He hopes local and federal investigations will shed full light on the killing."

Ferguson's unrest looks similar to what happened in London back in 2011, also sparked by a police shooting. The Washington correspondent for The Times of London, Devika Bhat, said the story has been a big priority back home, refocusing attention on America's problems with race and gun violence

She added: "British audiences are familiar with America's very unique history - slavery, segregation, civil rights. But I think people would have perhaps presumed that we wouldn't necessarily be seeing scenes like this on a midwestern street... This particular story has shone a spotlight on those issues surrounding violence to do with guns that has got people back in Britain thinking about it again."

Meanwhile in Russia, a country with a far more negative view of America, Ferguson is big news - one Moscow newspaper had a headline which read: "Six bullets: two in the head". For many Russians, this is evidence of American hypocrisy. "It shows their policies have double standards - they have one approach for themselves and allied countries, and another for countries that aren't allies," said a Muscovite.

The hypocrisy charge has also been levelled by another traditional American foe - Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran, who said the US is committing human rights violations against its own people.

For President Obama, quelling the protests and getting Ferguson back to normal is the immediate priority. But in the longer term, the violence there is forcing his administration to confront issues of police militarisation, gun violence and racism that are now playing out on TV screens and front pages across the world - scenes that will make it that bit more difficult for the US to take the moral high ground on international human rights issues in the future.

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia