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'Propaganda' campaign for Saudi crown prince's London visit slammed on social media

'Propaganda' campaign for Saudi crown prince's London visit slammed on social media
By Emma Beswick
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Pictures of what users called 'propaganda trucks' and adverts in newspapers praising Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince ahead of his official visit to the UK were widely criticised on Twitter.


A public relations campaign praising the visit of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the UK has raised eyebrows among the public. 

Pictures of what British social media users called 'propaganda trucks' were widely circulated on social media along with newspaper adverts coinciding with the start of his official three-day visit on Wednesday. Part of the campaign saw vans driven around London with a picture of the crown prince and #WelcomeSaudiCrownPrince written on them.

Meanwhile, protesters rallied against Salman's visit outside the British parliament against the war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia's military operation in Yemen is estimated to have killed 10,000 people and the UK has come under criticism for exporting weapons to the kingdom.

'Stop the slaughter': Demonstrators protest against Saudi Crown Prince’s UK visit
Demonstrators in central London wave placards during a protest against Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's visit

'Propaganda trucks'

One Twitter user, who posted a photograph of the vans, labelled them "propaganda trucks" and said he had seen them driving at Hyde Park Corner on Monday.

Motorway signs

Another user reported seeing signs on the M4 motorway that featured the same hashtag and a picture of Salman captioned: "He is bringing change to Saudi Arabia."

Many voiced their objection to the campaign with the hashtag #SaudiPrinceNotWelcome.

Newspaper adverts

Similar adverts also appeared in British newspapers on Wednesday. Three half-page adverts featured in left-leaning daily The Guardian, including two that read, "He is empowering Saudi Arabian women.”

The ads also appeared on the publication's website next to an opinion article, titled "Britain’s red carpet for the Saudi ruler is shameless," but later appeared to have been removed.

Guardian News & Media spokesperson told Euronews: "The acceptance of advertising and sponsorship in no way affects our editorial position. We are free to, and often do, challenge the activities of companies and organisations that are also our advertisers and sponsors."

Adverts also appeared in Britsh newspapers The Times, The Telegraph, Financial Times and The Evening Standard.

The New Arab reported that the Saudi government was rumoured to have spent roughly £1 million (€1.12) on the whole campaign.

Salman began his three-day state visit on Wednesday, meeting both the Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Theresa May.

A heated exchange took place in parliament between May and opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who accused the government of “directing the war” being waged by Saudi Arabia in Yemen and “colluding in what the United Nations says is evidence of war crimes”.

Corbyn urged May to use the visit to “halt the arms supplies and demand an immediate ceasefire in Yemen”.

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