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Activists around the world react to Capitol siege

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WASHINGTON – Activists around the world say the U.S. Capitol siege demonstrated white supremacy remains a pervasive problem in the U.S.

Naomi Fontanos, executive director of Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA), an LGBTQ advocacy group in the Philippines, on Saturday told the Los Angeles Blade “the attack on the U.S. Capitol was not a revelation, but a confirmation of what America is really is: A hotbed of structural, institutional and systemic racism.”

“After the massive protests brought about by the death of George Floyd, it was saddening to see that not much has changed in terms of white supremacist, toxic masculine aggression and violence and how easily these can be mobilized under a macho-fascist leader like Trump,” said Fontanos.

Tarek Zeidan, executive director of Helem, the oldest LGBTQ rights group in Lebanon, on Friday during a WhatsApp interview from Beirut cited the “scandalous double standard at how the same police dealt with the Black Lives Matter protesters over the summer.”

“This was a huge eye opener,” said Zeidan.

OutRight Action International Executive Director Jessica Stern echoed Zeidan in a statement to the Blade.

“Can you imagine how Black Lives Matter activists would have been treated if they attacked the Capitol,” she said. “Without a doubt, Wednesday’s events confirmed America’s double standard when it comes to race, again and again giving white people special rights.”

“The incoming Congress, president-elect and all of us must do better,” added Stern. “If the U.S. doesn’t respect human rights and democracy at home, we don’t have a leg to stand on internationally.”

Ahmed el-Hady, a queer Egyptian activist who lives in New York, during an interview with the Blade on Friday said the “biggest white militia in the United States is the police.” El-Hady added law enforcement’s response to the siege was not a surprise.

“It wasn’t really surprising who has privilege in this country,” he said.

Sally Goldner — a veteran transgender, bisexual and pansexual activist in the Australian city of Melbourne, in an email to the Blade said she watched the siege “with feelings of shock, sadness, disbelief and also feeling overwhelmed in a sense of feeling deluged.” Goldner, like el-Hady and others, also raised the issue of privilege in the U.S.

“I suppose people with all the privilege — in the case of the terrorists who stormed the Capitol, being cisgender, white, predominantly male and presumably heterosexual feel so threatened at the idea of losing power and privilege as they attempt an insurrection,” said Goldner.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are among the world leaders who condemned the siege that began as members of Congress were certifying the Electoral College results that confirmed the election of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris. Trump supporters marched to the Capitol after the outgoing president spoke at the “Save America Rally” on the Ellipse.