#BBCtrending: How Egypt's message to Ferguson police backfired

A tweet showing a man on a camel riding into a crowd and reading "For a memorable entrance, why not make use of local animals?"

Earlier this week an Egyptian official called for police in the US town of Ferguson to "exercise restraint". Many Egyptians have been twisting his barbed comment around, however, using it to level criticism back at their own government.

The statement from Cairo was directed at the heavily armed police response to rioting in Ferguson, which broke out when an unarmed black teenager was shot by police. But to some Egyptians, it seemed deeply hypocritical. Just a week earlier, a report accusing Egypt's police force of murdering 800 protesters near the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque was published by Human Rights Watch.

Now, Egyptian Twitter users have been calling their government out on the issue, taking the statement as a joke, and running with it. Using the hashtag #EgyPoliceTipsToUS, they have been sending satirical tips to police in Ferguson, advising them to mirror the tactics police in Rabaa al-Adawiya were alleged to have used.

"Don't fire rubber bullets, it's a waste of time and money. Fire real bullets instead," one user posted. "Hire state sponsored thugs to infiltrate the crowd and sexually assault women to deter them from protesting," said another.

"For a memorable entrance, why not make use of local animals?" said a third, posting a picture of a man on a camel beating back protesters. Speaking to BBC Trending the user, known as Buthaynah, says "I think it's comical that a government with an abysmal human rights record - such as Egypt's should have anything to say about restraint."

A tweet showing a group of police beating a man and reading "Remember: teamwork is the key"

The hashtag, which has now been used more than 2,000 times, was started by an Egyptian known as Galal. He tells us he designed it "as a troll against Egypt's police" who are in no position to set standards on how to deal with protests. He says he wants the trend to act as an informal "record sheet" detailing their "past assaults".

There was by no means a consensus on the matter, though. An Arabic hashtag #مصر_تطالب_أمريكا_بضبط_النفس, which roughly translates as "Egypt asks America to show restraint", has appeared more than 6,000 times, and used to express support for the Egyptian government's remarks. "That's the Egypt that us Arabs are proud of," said one, and "Obama, you should try to be as wise as Sisi is," said another.

Egypt joins a host of countries in accusing the US of double standards - passing judgement on policing methods around the world, while appearing to take a heavy hand in presiding over civil unrest at home. Senior figures from Iran and Russia have commented on the matter as well.

Whilst not comparable to the Egyptian response to protests in terms of severity, organisation Amnesty International has accused Ferguson police of human rights abuses in recent days.

Reporting by Sam Judah and Nader Ibrahim

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending

More on This Story

Best of BBC Trending

Copyright © 2018 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.