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Natural History Museum defends hosting “blood money” Saudi embassy event

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The Natural History Museum has defended plans to host an event for the Saudi Arabian embassy, amid calls to cancel over the country’s human rights record.

Image: Wikipedia

Critics demanded that the museum cancel tonight’s reception to celebrate Saudi Arabia day, following the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi earlier this week and the regime's continued bombing of civilians in Yemen.

The museum defended the reception, saying that events such as these were a key source of funding.

“Enabling commercial events to take place outside of public opening hours in our iconic spaces brings the museum an important source of external funding,” the museum wrote in a statement on Twitter.

“We hold a wide variety of commercial events and it is made clear to any host that doing so is not an endorsement of their product, service or views,” it continued.

The reception will be hosted by the Saudi ambassador to the UK, Mohammed bin Nawaf.

The issue was raised after journalist Owen Jones tweeted about the event. “The Saudi dictatorship is massacring thousands in Yemen and is currently accused of kidnapping and murdering a journalist,” he wrote, calling on the museum to “cancel and apologise.”

Jones later accused the museum of taking “blood money” from the Saudi regime.

Jamal Khashoggi disappeared last week after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, leading to accusations that he was murdered by individuals acting for the Saudi government. Khashoggi had been a virulent critic of both the Saudi regime and Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman.

A Saudi-backed coalition continues to bomb civilians in Yemen leading to UN accusations of war crimes.

Other prominent journalists including George Monbiot, Glenn Greenwald and Matthew Thompson have also called on the museum to cancel the event.

The Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy has organised a protest outside the museum at the time of the reception this evening.

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