LONDON (Reuters) - Tahrir Square in Cairo, Green Square in Tripoli, Syntagma
Square in Athens and now Zuccotti Park in New York -- popular anger against
entrenching power elites is spreading around the world.
Many have been intrigued by the Occupy Wall Street movement against
financial inequality that started in a New York park and expanded across
America from Tampa, Florida, to Portland, Oregon, and from Los Angeles to
Hundreds of activists gathered a month ago in the Manhattan park two blocks
from Wall Street to vent their anger at what they see as the excesses of New
York financiers, whom they blame for the economic crisis that has struck
countless ordinary Americans and reverberated across the global economy.
In the U.S. movement, Arab nations see echoes of this year's Arab Spring
uprisings. Spaniards and Italians see parallels with Indignados (indignant)
activists, while voices in Tehran and Beijing with their own anti-American
agendas have even said this could portend the meltdown of the United States.
Inspired by the momentum of the U.S. movement, which started small but is
now part of U.S. political debate, activists in London will gather to
protest outside the London Stock Exchange on October 15 on the same day that
Spanish groups will mass on Madrid's Puerta del Sol square in solidarity.
"American people are more and more following the path chosen by people in
the Arab world," Iran's student news agency ISNA quoted senior Revolutionary
Guards officer Masoud Jazayeri as saying. "America's domineering government
will face uprisings similar to those in Tunisia and Egypt."
Chinese newspapers splashed news about Occupy Wall Street with editorials
blaming the U.S. political system and denouncing the Western media for
playing down the protests.
"The future of America stands at a crossroads. Presuming that effective
measures to relieve the social mood and reconstruct justice cannot be found,
it is not impossible that the Occupy Wall Street movement might be the final
straw under which America collapses," said a commentary in the Global Times.
"This movement has uncovered a scar on American society, an iceberg of
accumulated social conflicts has risen to the surface," said the commentary
in the tabloid, which is owned by the Communist Party mouthpiece, the
"THIS IS TAHRIR SQUARE"
In Cairo, Ahmed Maher, a founder and leading member of Egypt's April 6 Youth
Movement which helped to topple autocrat Hosni Mubarak, said it was in
contact with several groups organising the anti-Wall Street demonstrations.
"A few days ago we saw a banner in New York that said 'This is Tahrir
Square'," Maher said, referring to the Cairo square that became the
epicentre of Egypt's revolution.
"The Arab Spring has definitely inspired the burst of protests in the United
States and Europe."
Others noted differences between Arab protesters and U.S. protesters,
branded by one Republican presidential candidate as "anti-American" and so
jealousy-ridden that they wanted to "take somebody else's ... Cadillac."
"The Arab protests started with requests for reform but quickly transformed
into demands for governments to leave, or at least their leaders," said
Abdulaziz al-Uwaisheg, columnist in Saudi daily al-Watan. "The American
protest is against specific policies ... It did not ask to change the
Spanish media have devoted daily coverage to Occupy Wall Street, dubbing
participants "Indignados in Manhattan," with left-leaning newspapers saying
the U.S. protesters were inspired by Spain's own disenchanted youth-led
"Occupy Wall Street is one more branch of a global movement," said Veronica
Garcia, a 40-year-old lawyer involved in the Spanish demonstrations.
MARCHES INSPIRED BY MOVEMENT
While Spain's "Indignados" have poured much of their anger so far on
politicians, Garcia said Saturday's Madrid march was likely to focus more on
In London, which was hit by rioting and looting by disaffected people in
early August, protesters were using social media like Facebook and Twitter
to plan their Stock Exchange protest on Saturday.
The Occupy London protest aims to draw attention to "the economic systems
that have caused terrible injustices around the world," according to their
"Bankers have got off scot-free whilst the people of this country are being
punished for a crisis they did not create," a statement on the website said,
echoing the chant taken up by U.S. marchers: "We are the 99 percent."
Unions, which organised protests against austerity moves in debt-stricken
Greece, welcomed the New York protests.
"It's optimistic because we haven't seen such protests before," Greek public
sector unionist Despina Spanou told Reuters. "There is no coordination so
far because most of this is spontaneous, but we cannot rule anything out."
Newspapers around the world have sought to identify the true motor of
discontent driving the Occupy Wall Street movement, with the Korea Herald
seeing an historic dimension reflecting the civil rights movement and
anti-Vietnam War rallies.
"But perhaps the closest historical parallel is with the Populist movement
of the 1890s, which, like Occupy Wall Street, was a broad, economics-driven
revolt that targeted a predatory class of corporate capitalists - the robber
barons of the Gilded Age," the newspaper said.
"THERE'S SOMETHING HAPPENING HERE"
Japan's Kyodo news agency ran an interview from New York with organiser
Kalle Lasn who said he hoped that "Occupy Wall Street" would inspire Japan's
"Is there some beginning of some kind of 'Occupy Tokyo' or 'Occupy
Marunouchi', something like that happening in Japan right now or not?" Kyodo
quoted Lasn as saying, referring to the Marunouchi business district in
The Occupy Wall Street protests across the United States with their focus on
banking bailouts and unfairness appeared to present a dilemma for Russian
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
The protests support one Kremlin agenda by underscoring the economic
troubles of Moscow's Cold War foe, but could also send a signal encouraging
street protests -- not what Putin wants as he heads towards a second stint
as president in a March vote.
This July, Putin said the United States was "acting like hooligans" in the
global economy. In August, he said the United States was living beyond its
means "like a parasite."
Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev have not spoken publicly about the
protests, but state-run TV stations they use to shape opinion seem to have
found a way around the contradiction.
Footage of crowds protesting against perceived corporate greed and
government connivance echoed the emphasis on U.S. economic inequality that
was a Soviet-era propaganda staple.
Such footage may also back up Putin's argument for a tight state rein on
Russia's corporate world -- and his colourful depictions of the United
States as a flagging, sometimes dangerously irresponsible financial power.
At the same time, news footage often focussing on outspoken, outlandishly
dressed participants in the U.S. protests appeared aimed at lending the
crowds a circus-like look that could be to discourage Russians from trying
this at home.
The Chinese, however, have not been so subtle, using the movement to fire
repeated broadsides at the capitalist system.
"The Occupy Wall Street movement was sparked by the extreme disparity
between the rich and the poor," the Hong Kong Economic Journal said in its
"Now it looks like the spark is being turned into a great fire that is
spreading to other countries."
British commentators were not so convinced by such an apocalyptic vision.
Giles Whittell in the London Times, highlighting the movement's lack of a
coherent agenda, came to the conclusion in a headline that it was:
"Passionate but Pointless."
(Reporting by Charlie Zhu in Hong Kong, Andrew Hammond in Dubai, Parisa
Hafezi in Tehran, Marwa Awad in Cairo, Catherine Hornby in Rome, Michael
Martina in Beijing, Antoni Slodkowski in Tokyo, Peter Griffiths in London,
Tracy Rucinski in Madrid, Renee Maltezou in Athens, Steve Gutterman in
Moscow, David Cutler in London; Writing by Peter Millership; Editing by Mark
C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved
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Received on Tue Oct 11 2011 - 11:37:36 EDT