Commenting on news that the UK government has licensed sales of tear gas and crowd control weapons to Bahrain and Libya, whose governments have been violently suppressing peaceful protests in recent days, Symon Hill, associate director of the Ekklesia think-tank, said:
"This information raises serious concerns about the UK government's commitment to the development of democracy in the Middle East and North Africa.
"Many UK taxpayers will be alarmed to discover that they have unwittingly facilitated the sale of tear gas and crowd control weapons to regimes that have used them to suppress peaceful protests. It is difficult to imagine how else British ministers thought such equipment would be used.
"The UK government can gain back some credibility by heeding the call for an arms embargo on regimes such as Bahrain and Libya and by pulling out of the IDEX arms fair in the Middle East next week."