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The Energy Embargo for Palestine group assembles outside, causing the British Museum to shut its doors to visitors.
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The Energy Embargo for Palestine group assembles outside, causing the British Museum to shut its doors to visitors.

The British Museum closed its doors to visitors on Sunday afternoon as hundreds of protesters gathered outside to demand that it end its partnership with BP – and sought to draw a link with the conflict in Gaza.

A recently formed protest organization in the UK, known as Energy Embargo for Palestine, urged the public to refrain from visiting the museum as long as it accepts funding from the aforementioned company.

The protesters, in a statement published on the Jacobin website, drew attention to the fact that Israel has granted offshore gas exploration licenses to companies, such as BP, during the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

A sign displayed near the museum’s entrance read: “Supported by BP = funded by past atrocities against indigenous people.”

According to officials at the British Museum, the Metropolitan police advised the museum to close its main entrances on Sunday. They also stated that visitors who arrived before 3pm were allowed to stay inside.

According to the source, the museum is making arrangements to accommodate those who have reserved tickets for exhibits at later time slots, allowing them to exchange them for a different day.

The British Museum, which is chaired by the former the Tory chancellor George Osborne, signed a new £50m, 10-year partnership with BP last year.

The agreement aims to finance a grand renovation of the Bloomsbury structure, but has sparked intense backlash from environmental activists who have been pushing for the company to cut ties with the use of fossil fuels.

The event on Sunday seemed to signal a new wave of disapproval towards the museum, as it united both environmental activists protesting the climate crisis and demonstrators against Israel’s attack on Gaza.

The spokesperson for the museum stated that the British Museum acknowledges and upholds the right for individuals to express their opinions and permits peaceful demonstrations within the museum’s premises, as long as there is no potential harm to the museum’s collection, employees, or guests.

During the announcement of the new sponsorship, Louise Kingham, BP’s senior vice-president for Europe, stated that as a company that has been based in Britain for over one hundred years, they are pleased to be a long-term partner for this significant British institution. They will also contribute to its future development and strive to maintain its status as a publicly accessible cultural venue for all.

Source: theguardian.com