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UK invitation to Saudi MBS for Queen's funeral draws harsh criticism

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman when he met with the late Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace, on March 7, 2018. (Photo by Getty Images)

The UK’s invitation to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed Bin Salman, to attend Queen Elizabeth II's funeral has ignited a wave of protests and criticism from Saudi dissidents and human rights groups.

A CIA report concluded that the crown prince had ordered the murder and dismemberment of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018. Both the Saudi government and the prince denied the allegations.

The late journalist’s fiancée, Hatice Gengiz, said the UK's invitation is a stain on the memory of the Queen and that the Saudi prince should be denied the opportunity to seek legitimacy and normalization by attending her funeral.

She also called for him to be arrested when he lands in London, though she doubted this would happen.

A London-based pressure group, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), also said the occasion would give Bin Salman another chance to “whitewash” his human rights records.

The group estimates that since the start of the disastrous war in Yemen eight years ago, Britain has sold the Saudi-led coalition fighting there more than 23 billion dollars worth of arms.

Meanwhile, other activists criticized the UK's decision to invite leaders such as MBS and King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa of Bahrain but to exclude Syrian and Venezuelan leaders.

Ever since MBS became crown prince in 2017, scant political freedoms have disappeared with stiff prison sentences handed down to critics of government, even just for social media posts.

The visit to the UK by the prince would be his first visit ever since the murder. He previously visited Greece and France in July which marked his first visit to Europe since the brutal incident.

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