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The New Arab

UK-based Saudi opposition to protest crown prince's controversial visit

Bin Salman will lunch on Wednesday with the Queen at Buckingham Palace [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 March, 2018

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Saudi opposition groups in Britain have said they will protest against a state visit by the kingdom's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman this week.

Saudi opposition groups in Britain have said they will protest against a state visit by the kingdom's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman this week.

The UK-based rights group ALQST for Human Rights and two Islamic parties founded by political exiles have said they will take part on Wednesday in demonstrations in London - a main base for the Saudi opposition abroad.

"The huge posters and public relations campaign in Britain for the Crown Prince show that he is afraid of public opinion here," ALQST head Yahya Assiri told The New Arab.

"The public relations campaign has promoted him as a bringer of change despite unfair trials and hundreds of political opponents being jailed on false charges," he added.

Promotional posters of Prince Mohammed have popped up across London ahead of the much-hyped visit.

Saudi political exile Omar al-Shahrani predicted that the charm offensive will be "counterproductive".

"No matter how much he pays for the campaign using the money of the Saudi people, who are suffering from poverty, he will not overshadow issues such as the war in Yemen and lack of free speech," Shahrani said.

The Umma Islamic Party and the Islamic Renewal Party have said their UK-based members will take part in protests in London throughout the royal's three-day visit.

The Umma Islamic Party has said it has petitioned British Prime Minister Theresa May to address human rights violations in the kingdom and violations in the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen.

Protest group Stop the War will hold a rally outside Downing Street at 5.00 pm on Wednesday to denounce Saudi Arabia's "brutal and illegal bombing" in Yemen and London's support for the Middle Eastern regime.

Britain is rolling out the red carpet for the crown prince's controversial visit, which Downing Street hopes "will usher in a new era in bilateral relations".

Bin Salman will lunch on Wednesday with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, while Prince Charles will host him at a dinner with Prince William among the guests.

The crown prince will jointly host with May the inaugural UK-Saudi strategic partnership council in No. 10, the prime minister's office and residence.

However, May will "raise deep concerns at the humanitarian situation" in war-torn Yemen with bin Salman, according to her spokesman.

"(May) will acknowledge the steps taken recently by Saudi Arabia to address the crisis but stress the importance of full and unfettered humanitarian and commercial access, including through the ports," he said on Tuesday.

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