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British Museum’s relationship with BP a ‘devastating blow,’ says Syrian refugee

A SYRIAN refugee whose work features in the British Museum’s Troy exhibition has spoken out against its sponsorship with oil giant BP.

In an open letter to the museum’s director and trustees, Reem Alsayyah said the partnership came as a “devastating blow.”

A film production of the play Queens of Syria, a modern retelling of Euripides’s The Trojan Women by a group of 13 Syrian refugees including Ms Alsayyah, will be shown at the upcoming exhibition.

Ms Alsayyah, who fled the civil war in Syria, has urged the British Museum to sever ties with BP, which she charges with “fuelling conflict and colonialism in the Middle East in order to access its oil reserves.”

The performer said the association was “deeply personal” as her family has been directly affected by wars where oil played a role in the conflict.

The letter, penned by Ms Alsayyah and Queen of Syria director Zoe Lafferty, is the latest to call on major British cultural institutions to end their partnerships with BP.

They said: “As many in our sector are now distancing themselves from BP, we feel we have a responsibility to speak out too and make clear that our work should not be used to clean up the company’s tarnished image.”

A British Museum spokeswoman said it relied on “external support” in order for projects like Troy to take place.

She said: “We understand that people have concerns about this kind of support and it’s right that those questions are raised.”

BP has been embroiled in multiple scandals, including allegations of complicity in the 2003 Iraq war.

Secret memos released in 2011 revealed that BP was lobbying the government for access to Iraq’s immense oil reserves just a few months before the invasion.


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