Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah received a lavish welcome from Queen Elizabeth II Tuesday at the start of a state visit. He got a different type of welcome from protesters who lashed out at his regime's middle ages social policies.

Scores of protesters shouted "murderers", "torturers", and "shame on you" at Abdullah as he passed by in a gilded horse-drawn coach on the second day of a visit that has attracted widespread criticism of the Saudi human rights record.

Hilary Evans, a teacher from Twickenham, said: "I'm shocked that we are honouring one of the world's nastiest dictators. I don't think they should be feted in this way."

Mary Holmes, 65, a retired district nurse from Twickenham, southwest London, said torture was a “state policy” in Saudi Arabia and Britain should not trade with such a “disgraceful regime”. She said: “A lot of people think that the arms industry is central to the British economy but only 2 per cent of our exports come from the arms industry. It’s really just a global trade now so people are mistaken in thinking BAe is a British firm.”

Symon Hill, of the Campaign Against The Arms Trade, told the Times: “I think the visit sends the message that the UK Government isn’t concerned about human rights in Saudi Arabia. It also sends the message that the Government will put the arms trade and BAe ahead of human rights.”

BAE Systems (BAe) is a British defence and aerospace company headquartered at Farnborough, England.

HIll criticized Prime Minister Gordon Brown for condemning human rights abuses in Burma and Zimbabwe, but saying nothing about the Saudis. He said: “It’s hard to think Britain can have an influence in the world criticising Mugabe’s despotism if the Saudi dictator is welcomed to a banquet at Buckingham Palace.”

Amnesty International published a dossier to coincide with the visit highlighting the "bleak" situation in Saudi Arabia over public beheadings, torture, court-ordered floggings and violence and discrimination against women.

Kate Allen, British director of Amnesty, said that the Prime Minister should use the visit to address human rights issues. "Gordon Brown should use this meeting with the Saudi King to make absolutely clear that the extent and severity of human rights abuses in King Abdullah's country are totally unacceptable," she said. "Mr Brown's message should be: reforms need to come, and they need to come quickly."
Mr. Brown like Mr. Bush seem to find the King and his family wonderful pals. Maybe its the beards, I don't know. What do you think?

The following is from The Guardian (Great Britain).

Demo as Queen welcomes Saudi king

The Queen welcomed Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah to Britain on Tuesday night as protesters jeered the Middle Eastern ruler during his controversial state visit.

About 100 human rights and anti-arms trade activists shouted "Shame on you" at the Muslim leader as he made his way to Buckingham Palace in a royal carriage procession.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh greeted the "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques" amid pomp and ceremony on Horse Guards Parade in central London for what is the first state visit to the UK by a Saudi king for 20 years. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells joined dignitaries on the dais for the official welcome.

Saudi human rights records and the King's recent remarks about the July 7 terror attacks have heightened tensions surrounding the trip.

Demonstrators called on the government to take a more critical approach to the country's regime. There were also claims last night that groups linked to the Saudi regime have been distributing hate literature from British mosques.

An investigation by think-tank the Policy Exchange found extremist material advocating action such as murdering gays was available at a quarter of mosques. Most of it was sourced from the Middle Eastern kingdom, it claimed.

Liberal Democrat acting leader Vince Cable is boycotting the visit, which is being marked at the Palace on Tuesday night with a banquet hosted by the Queen.

More than 170 people will gather in the ballroom for the grand celebration where both monarchs will give speeches.

King Abdullah will hold talks at Downing Street on Wednesday, ahead of travelling to Clarence House for a meeting with the Prince of Wales about The Prince's Trust.

The Foreign Office was forced to rebut his remarks that the Saudi authorities had provided information which could have averted the suicide bombings of July 7.

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