The chaos unleashed on the US Capitol by Donald Trump’s supporters dominated front pages across the world Thursday, with headlines such as “Trump sets fire to Washington”, “Democracy under siege”, and “The Coup of Madness”.
For the most part the international press laid the blame squarely at the outgoing president’s feet, accusing him of having encouraged the violence.
In Britain, “Trump supporters storm heart of American democracy” was the headline in The Times, describing how, “Democrats and Republicans alike pulled on gas masks and sheltered under desks and staff hid in offices.”
“Democracy under siege”, wrote The Daily Telegraph, reporting “unprecedented scenes of violence and chaos” in Washington as “hordes of Trump supporters” stormed the Capitol.
For The Guardian, it represented “the most dramatic challenge to the US democratic system since the civil war”.
Day of shame
“Chaos” and “shame” were words that came up again and again in the main European newspapers.
Die Welt led an editorial by its correspondent Clemens Wergin with “Day of shame for American democracy”.
“The US has experienced its first tentative violent coup d’etat”, he wrote, adding that “the president, his lies, and a spineless Republican party are politically responsible”.
Süddeutsche Zeitung, under the headline “The coup of madness”, also talked of “Washington’s shame”, while in Spain, El Pais wrote that Trump had “encouraged the chaos”.
The Italian daily La Repubblica went even further, drawing a parallel with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s ascension to power in the 1920s.
“America — all of America — watched on in horror as the equivalent of The March on Rome unfolded in Washington on live television — the invasion of the Capitol, the attack on democracy’s sacredness itself”, began Mario Platero’s article.
La Corriere della Serra delved into the profile of the Trump-supporting Proud Boys — “right-wing extremists, but also women, and young people. Called upon directly by Trump. Who then tried to dial down the pressure on television: ‘We are the party of law and order.’ But too late.”
“Trump: a strategy of chaos” was the front page of French daily Liberation, reinforcing the point in its inside pages with the title “Trump sets fire to Washington.”
“Donald Trump’s assault on American democracy became concrete as well as symbolic on Wednesday, when supporters of his, worked up into a white-hot rage by his speech, managed to break into the Capitol,” the article read.
In Le Figaro, columnist Philippe Gelie reflected that “Donald Trump could have come out on top — as a strong “president of the people” with a contested, but not negligable, record. Instead of that, his narcissism got the better of his dignity; he has manhandled institutions, trampled on democracy, divided his camp and thrown his presidency in a ditch.”
“The United States has fallen to the level of Latin-American countries”, was the self-deprecating observation from the Brazilian O Globo.
“The target was the Capitol, not the Twin Towers, but this was also terrorism,” Eliane Cantanhêde wrote in O Estado de S. Paulo, another Brazilian paper. “Domestic terrorism, internal, against the Capitol, the flames fanned by President Donald Trump himself.”
Egyptian daily Al-Ahram wrote that the scenes showed “the sacrifice of American democracy, the death of its liberty, and the plummeting of the values it has ceaselessly tried to export around the world and used as a reason to interfere in other countries’ affairs”.
© Agence France-Presse