Barack Obama responds to Charlottesville violence with poignant Nelson Mandela quote

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Former President Barack Obama condemned the violent clashes in Charlottesville in the US state of Virginia by quoting a poignant message from Nelson Mandela.

He shared the statement on social media after it emerged that three people had been killed in the violence which erupted at a rally held by white supremacists in the city on Saturday.

A 32-year-old woman was killed and 34 were injured when a car ploughed into a group of activists who were staging a counter-protest to the far-right rally. 

Two police officers later died when the helicopter they were using to monitor the event crashed just outside of Charlottesville.

Writing on Twitter in response to the violence, Obama quoted former South African president Mandela and wrote: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion.

“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. – Nelson Mandela.”

The quote is from Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. Obama’s tweets also featured a moving photo of him greeting children at a day care centre in Bethesda, Maryland in 2011.

Violent scenes: A woman receives first-aid after a car ran into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville (AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump had mentioned his predecessor in his own response to the violence.

Speaking from his golf club in New Jersey, he said: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.”

Mr Trump was criticised for failing to explicitly condemn the role of white supremacists in the clashes with counter-protesters.

Charlottesville: President Donald Trump condemned the violence ‘on many sides’ (AP)

James Alex Fields Jr has been charged with murder after he allegedly ploughed a car into the crowd of counter-protesters.

The “Unite the Right” rally was being staged against plans to remove a statue of a pro-slavery US Civil War general in Charlottesville.

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