Across the world, people are taking different lessons from the nationwide uprising sparked by #BlackLivesMatter. Protests are capturing front-page headlines, are the topic of talk shows and are the buzz of social media from Peoria to Palestine.

Reuters opinion editor Amana Fontanella-Khan, in a recent piece, wrote, “In some countries, developments in Ferguson and Staten Island have led opinion makers to question the United States and what it stands for … Elsewhere, some use this moment to raise uncomfortable questions about their own imperfect democracies.”

Five opinion pieces from around the world were picked by the Reuters staff to illuminate the diverse reactions to “I Can’t Breathe” and other protests.

“Irony of America’s finger-pointing at China,” read a China Daily headline over recent U.S. criticisms of the Asian giant’s rights record. “The practice of finger-pointing is always tainted with a touch of irony. When you point the index finger at someone, inevitably you have three fingers pointing right back at yourself.

“After examining America’s staggering racial disparity, one cannot help wondering whether the U.S. accusation of the Chinese government this time was another political tactic of shunning criticism at itself. No one would be surprised if the assumption is true.”

The headline in the Hurriyet of Turkey read, “Obama sets examples of police state, not democracy.”

“[The cases of Ferguson and Eric Garner] damage and devalue the U.S.’s democracy and rule of law recommendations to other countries with democratic problems, which is bad for improving democracy and human rights standards around the world,” the article stated.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan took it a step further, challenging opposition deputies who criticized police brutality against protesters: “If you dare, try to throw a stone at police in America. You cannot.”

In France, the newspaper Le Monde railed, “Ferguson in Toulouse: when the license to kill and repression are commonplace.”

Last October, 21-year-old environmentalist activist Remi Fraisse was killed by a so-called offensive grenade during a protest near Toulouse. His death sparked protests and riots across the country, as protesters demanded an “end to the license to kill.”

In Israel, the newspaper Haaretz headlined a story, “What the conflicts in Ferguson and Israel have in common.”

“What does this [Ferguson and Staten Island deaths] have to do with Jews and Palestinians?” the paper posed in an op-ed. “Actually, quite a bit.”

“Traveling through Ben-Gurion Airport as a Jew is vastly different from traveling through it as a Palestinian,” the editorial continued, “just as getting stopped by the police can be vastly different, depending on whether you’re white or Black. But very few American Jews, and very few white Americans, have been told, face-to-face, what that alternative experience is like. America’s discourse about race, and the American Jewish community’s discourse about Israel, would be much better if they had.”

Blogger T.O. Molefe wrote in #DeconstructingFerguson and lessons for Black South Africa in Black America, “Racist attacks [are] on the rise, affirmative action is often decried as ‘reverse racism’ and only 53 percent of white South Africans believe apartheid was a crime.

“Black America presently is in the throes of a conversation that, without a radical intervention, Black South Africans will be having in another 20 to 30 years, maybe more.”


Dec. 15 (GIN)—Last December, Madiba’s ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and his widow, Graca Machel, were seen comforting each other in the wake of the statesman’s death.

The warmth has cooled, if not frozen over, as Madikizela-Mandela opens a court fight for the estate of the former president, the validity of the will and the legitimacy of the handover to Machel of the rural house.

“I let him live on my property,” Madikizela-Mandela said in a combative tone that surprised many. “I wasn’t going to evict him simply because he was married to a third wife. It is such a pity he is no longer there for me to ask what on Earth would have brought him to elect that he would take my land and give it away to someone who actually has a whole world in Mozambique because [Machel has] her four houses in Mozambique.”

According to the will, Mandela’s homes in Qunu, Eastern Cape, and Houghton, Johannesburg, would be held in the Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Family Trust and the Nelson Mandela Trust.

Madikizela-Mandela, however, disputes that, asserting that Mandela may have committed land fraud when he registered a plot of land in Qunu in his own name.

According to Madikizela-Mandela, abaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo gave her the land when Mandela was imprisoned, and it is rightfully hers. She contends the registration of the house in Mandela’s name was unlawful and should be set aside.

President Jacob Zuma has filed a notice to oppose the ex-wife’s reported application to access government documents relating to the Qunu property.

The property claim began over the summer, when a letter by Madikizela-Mandela’s lawyers sought to repossess the house for her children. “It is only in this home that the children and grandchildren of Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela can conduct their own customs and tradition, and the house cannot be given to the sole custody of an individual nor can it be generally given to the custody of any person other than the children of Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela and/or her grandchildren,” the letter stated.

Traditional leaders also have the power to allocate parcels of land to people, but they do not become the official owner. Therefore, the issue may have to be decided under traditional customary law, said professor Stephen Tuson from Wits University in Johannesburg.

“My first crisp question would be what was Nelson Mandela’s title to that home, if anything?” said Tuson. “That would be definitive in my view. If he had the title deeds, then he can do with his home what he wishes. If he was not the title holder, if it was not his, but allocated to him, well then there is a little more wiggle room here. Then we would have to look at undocumented, largely customary law, and here the lines can get very blurred.”