In the wake of the chaotic violence which saw supporters of out-going US president Donald Trump invade the seat of American government in Washington DC on Wednesday, international reaction has been divided between alarm and derision.
The US president-elect, Joe Biden, described the attempt by Donald Trump supporters to halt the certification of last November's election result as "an uprising".
Images from inside the Capitol building showed Congressmen fleeing while wearing gas masks. Armed plain clothes police and National Guards struggled to impose a curfew. At least one person is known to have died in the disturbances.
American conservative media have played down the gravity of the storming of the US Capitol, citing anger at the establishment and accusing the hard left of having infiltrated the crowd. No proof of that claim has been offered.
As his supporters stormed the Capitol,Trump issued a lukewarm call for them to “stay peaceful” but did not immediately ask them to disperse. Hours later he urged them to go home saying he understood their position but added, “We love you” and called them “very special” people.
Washington has been placed in a state of emergency for the next two weeks.
Divided international response
Meanwhile, international leaders rushed to condemn the protesters' actions, or in some cases point out discrepancies.
French President Emmanuel Macron called for a firm stand in the face of the violence of certain elements.
"We will not give in to the violence of a few who want to question" democracy, said the French leader. In a video posted on his official Twitter account, he added: "What happened today in Washington is not American".
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also condemned "a serious attack on democracy".
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was "saddened and angry," blaming the violence on Donald Trump.
"I deeply regret that President Trump has not conceded his defeat, since November and again yesterday," the German leader said. "Doubts about the election outcome were stoked and created the atmosphere that made the events of last night possible."
The EU's foreign policy chief, Joseph Borrell, condemned what he called an "assault on US democracy".
"In the eyes of the world, American democracy tonight appears under siege," Borrell tweeted.
Calling the action an "assault on US democracy, its institutions and the rule of law", he added: "This is not America. The election results of 3 November must be fully respected."
China compares Washington with Hong Kong
China's internet erupted in mirth at America's troubled democracy, with Beijing criticising the "sharp contrast" between Washington's response to the chaos and the 2019 Hong Kong anti-government protests.
On Thursday morning, state media tabloid Global Times tweeted side-by-side photo comparisons of Hong Kong protesters occupying the city's Legislative Council Complex in July 2019 with Wednesday's Washington riots.
Western democracy 'fragile' says Rohani
Iranian President Hassan Rohani said the Washington disturbances proved that western democracy was "fragile and vulnerable". Rohani warned the entire world against the global spread of "populism," adding that the four years of the Trump presidency had "caused a disaster".
Venezuela, which remains under US sanctions, said events in Washington show that the US “is suffering what it has generated in other countries with its politics of aggression”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu described the violence as "a scandalous act".
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Trump ally who has heaped praise on the outgoing US president in the past, said he was "distressed to see news about rioting and violence" in Washington.
"Orderly and peaceful transfer of power must continue. The democratic process cannot be allowed to be subverted through unlawful protests," the Hindu nationalist leader tweeted.
“Disgraceful scenes in US Congress," tweeted Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, a staunch ally of the United States over generations.
“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.”