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The New Arab

Unesco sparks criticism for hosting MbS' personal charity at Paris event

A representative from MiSK – MbS' personal charity – took part in the event. [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 November, 2019

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A representative from the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation (MiSK) - MbS' personal charity - took part in a panel discussion at a two-day event organised by Unesco.

The UN's cultural body, Unesco, has come under fire after a youth charity with close ties to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appeared at one of their events in Paris.

A representative from the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation (MiSK) - MbS' personal charity - took part in a panel discussion at a two-day "youth forum" event organised by Unesco.

MiSK is run by Bader al-Asaker, who earlier this month was accused of masterminding a Saudi government bid to place spies in Twitter offices in order to reveal the identities of Saudi dissidents.

Last year, Turkish sources revealed that the head of the Saudi hit squad that killed and dismembered dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi phoned Asaker four times as the grisly operation was carried out.

More than 6,500 people have signed an online petition calling for Unesco to "end its partnership" with MiSK, the Daily Telegraph reported.

MiSK reportedly signed a $5 million partnership with Unesco in 2016.

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"In the absence of a conviction by a national or international court, we don't consider at this stage we are in possession of evidence permitting us to break this agreement," Unesco said, according to the Daily Telegraph.

In September, the New York Public Library cancelled a workshop for around 300 people after outrage from human rights groups over the MiSK's co-sponoring of the event.

The library said in a statement that the event was dropped amid "public concern around the event and one of its sponsors".

Earlier this year, the UN found "credible evidence" linking Mohammed bin Salman with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

The CIA has reportedly said the murder was likely ordered by Prince Mohammed, a charge Saudi Arabia vehemently denies.

Riyadh initially said it had no knowledge of Khashoggi's fate, but later blamed the murder on rogue agents, and Saudi prosecutors have absolved the crown prince of responsibility.

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