The Saudi head of state King Abdullah found the Mall in London lined by anti-arms and human rights protesters as he travelled in ceremony to Buckingham Palace today. Critics worldwide are appalled that his regime is being feted by the Queen and Prime Minister.
The demonstration, which was entirely peaceful, was organised by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and included activist comedian Mark Thomas and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
CAAT says it believes that the influence of BAE Systems has led the UK Government to ignore human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia. Demonstrators called on the Government to reopen a Serious Fraud Office investigation into the Saudi regime's arms deals with BAE.
CAAT spokesperson Symon Hill said: "Demonstrations are not allowed in Saudi Arabia, so Abdullah may not be used to them. But today he encountered the reality of British public opinion."
He continued: "People in the UK do not want their government allowing BAE to arm Abdullah's vicious regime, let alone inviting him to a banquet at Buckingham Palace. [Those] from all walks of life have today insisted that Gordon Brown must put human rights and the public interest ahead of BAE's profits from Saudi Arabia."
The protest was clearly visible to King Abdullah and his entourage as they travelled in horsedrawn carriages. CAAT supporters later demonstrated with the same message near Parliament.