Saudi Dictatorship Erecting Statue of Liberty is Perfect Symbol of Trump-MBS Bromance

You couldn't think of many countries more incongruous with the word "freedom" than Saudi Arabia, but there she is—Lady Liberty herself, lifting her torch high above the kingdom's port city of Jeddah. Only in the Trump era could such a potent symbol of freedom as the Statue of Liberty be hijacked by a dictatorship like Saudi Arabia.

For the millions of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island as they entered America over 100 years ago, the torch that Lady Liberty held up was a beacon of hope.

How then has she come to be used at a month-long festival in Jeddah, a port city in a country which could not be more undeserving of "The Lady in the Harbor"?

For, if you live in Saudi Arabia you have no hope if you are a woman, gay, in favor of free speech or democratic rule.

That the Statue of Liberty can be associated with such a place is an insult to those who cherish everything it represents: America the beacon of the world, America the melting pot of nations, America the land of the free.

But the fact that the Saudis feel emboldened enough to use her to claim some sort of solidarity with America is all down to Donald Trump.

When the rest of world recoiled in horror at the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the imprisonment of women rights activists, the execution of people for being gay or the bombing of school buses in Yemen, he was not swayed.

Despite the most heinous of crimes, Saudi Arabia was still a "great ally" and a great supporter of America, he would say.

As long as lucrative arms deals are providing jobs back home, the bromance will continue with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, of whom a UN report last month said there was 'credible evidence' he was involved in the killing of the Washington Post journalist, Khashoggi.

It's not surprising that the Saudis carry on regardless.

However, if you accept that the Statue of Liberty represents the very best of America and her place in the world, then by extension you have to also accept that Donald Trump is an "un-American" President.

Lady Liberty and he just do not share the same values.

Thankfully, most American senators and congressmen still know what being a true American means, as they continue to pass laws saying the US should punish those responsible for Khashoggi's murder and end its support for the Saudi war in Yemen.

According to the UN, by November 2018 nearly 7000 civilians had been killed there and 10,768 injured, most by Saudi Arabia-led air strikes, with 10 million more on the brink of famine.

But on Yemen, Trump exercised his veto and on Khashoggi he just chose to ignore the Magnitsky Act.

On migrants and the border wall, he tried to block a $4.5billion aid bill which included new standards for migrants in custody following reports that children were being kept in terrible conditions.

The problem is not that there aren't any "American" politicians on Capitol Hill, it's that there aren't enough of them to override an 'un-American' presidential veto.

So, for now, we're treated to the grotesque spectacle of the Statue of Liberty being wheeled out on the Jeddah Corniche as part of some tacky display of Americana, along with a Hollywood sign, a Welcome to Vegas sticker, an Uncle Sam hat and an Elvis Presley statue—all set to the Bruno Mars song, Uptown Funk.

The truth is that if Liberty were to suddenly get down off her pedestal and start reading the poem inscribed on it she would be arrested and thrown behind bars before she could say: "I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

The whole thing gets even more perverse when you consider that in New York the "Mother of Exiles" was welcoming poor and downtrodden immigrants, and today Saudi Arabia uses the hated kefala system of sponsored labor, described as modern-day slavery.

Take Nepalese workers, for example. In 2016 the country was responsible for the most Nepalese labor deaths from natural causes in the world, including 60% of traffic accidents, according to the International Labor Organisation.

Last year, Saudi Arabia cited a United Nations job application as evidence against the women's rights activist, Loujain al-Hathloul, still behind bars for campaigning for women's right to drive and an end to the male guardianship system.

Loujain also allegedly "confessed" to being in contact with human rights groups, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Since when did applying for a job at the UN and being in touch with human rights groups amount to a criminal offence?

Maybe it would be more appropriate, instead of the Statue of Liberty standing alongside them, to have a Baby Trump balloon floating over the heads of rapper Nicki Minaj, pop star Liam Payne and DJ Steve Aoki when they close Jeddah World Fest later this month.

Anthony Harwood is a former foreign editor of the Daily Mail and US Editor of the Daily Mirror

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.​​​​​

Saudi Dictatorship Erecting Statue of Liberty is Perfect Symbol of Trump-MBS Bromance | Opinion
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