As extremist supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump overtook the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday afternoon, politicians and leaders from across the globe condemned the riots and the threat they posed to American democracy.
“The world is watching,” President-elect Joe Biden said in remarks just after 4 p.m. in Wilmington, Delaware. He was not wrong.
Allies — and even some countries with which the United States has had rocky diplomatic relations — tweeted their shock and disapproval of the scenes playing out inside the Capitol.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the scenes “disgraceful.”
“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,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon indirectly condemned Trump, saying, “Shame on those who have incited this attack on democracy.”
Ciro Gomes, a left-wing politician in Brazil, also firmly pinned the blame for the violence on Trump, saying he “is a bad example to the world and puts all democratic countries at risk.”
Turkey, which experienced a coup attempt in 2016, also chimed in. The nation’s state-run news agency, Anadolu Agency, wrote that it was “concerned over developments in US” and called for calm.
“Turkey invites all parties in US to use moderation, common sense to overcome this domestic political crisis.”
On Thursday morning, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa invoked the “painful economic sanctions” Trump’s administration imposed over “concerns about Zimbabwe’s democracy” last year.
“Yesterday’s events showed that the U.S. has no moral right to punish another nation under the guise of upholding democracy,” Mnangagwa added.
Jorge Arreaza, the foreign minister of Venezuela, tweeted a statement on behalf of his government, in which it condemned “the political polarization” in the U.S. and said he “hopes” the country “can find a new path to stability and social justice.”
As HuffPost Canada reported, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau initially said in a radio interview that he was confident in the strength of America’s democracy and was hopeful “everything will return to normal shortly.” (He later tweeted: “Canadians are deeply disturbed and saddened by the attack on democracy in the United States, our closest ally and neighbour.”)
Most other world leaders were not so rosy in their assessments. “The enemies of democracy will be happy to see these incredible pictures,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted. “The disdain for democratic institutions is devastating.”
Andreas Michaelis, the German ambassador to the U.K., highlighted the legacy of American help in establishing democracy after World War II and added, “We also learnt that democracy is not just about institutions. It is about political culture, too. All democratic nations need to constantly defend it.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called the images and videos “shocking,” adding, “The outcome of this democratic election must be respected.”
Officials from other NATO member states joined Stoltenberg’s condemnation, including Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who called the violence a “grave attack against democracy.”
Mark Rutte, the prime minister of the Netherlands, echoed him, saying the images coming from the Capitol were “horrifying.” Rutte urged Trump to recognize Biden as the president immediately. (Biden is not due to be sworn in until Jan. 20.)
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he was watching the events of the afternoon with “great concern.”
Matteo Salvini, the right-wing former deputy prime minister of Italy, also expressed worry, tweeting that “violence is never the solution. ... Long live freedom and democracy.”
Trump had repeatedly called for his supporters to gather in D.C. for Wednesday’s vote to certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 election, at one point promising it would be “wild.” The president finally urged insurrectionists to be peaceful after they’d swarmed the Capitol and at least one person had reportedly been shot.
In a subsequent video, Trump repeated false claims that the November election was rigged. But, he said, “We can’t play into the hands of these people.”
“We have to have peace,” he said. “So go home. We love you. You’re very special.”