03:30 GMT05 April 2020
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    An art exhibit that includes a statue of a giant piece of candy wrapped with the Saudi Arabian flag will be removed from the grounds of the World Trade Center in New York City later this week, following criticism from 9/11 victims groups.

    The 9-foot-tall candy statue is part of an art exhibit inspired by the G-20 summit in 2011, which took place in France. The exhibit includes a series of large candies wrapped with the flags of the G20 nations. The artwork, called "Candy Nations," was designed by French artist Laurence Jenkell, who said she wanted to "celebrate mankind." The exhibit, which has already been featured in 25 countries, was erected on the World Trade Center grounds this month.

    ​However, according to 9/11 victims groups, the proximity of the statue to Ground Zero is insensitive. Last year, families of 9/11 victims filed a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia over its support of the al-Qaeda terrorist group and its help facilitating the terrorist attacks on the US, Sputnik previously reported.

    "I personally think the Saudi 'flag' candy display shows very poor judgment and a lack of empathy on the part of the Port Authority," Terry Strada, the chair of 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, recently told BuzzFeed News.

    Strada did not immediately respond to Sputnik's request for comment.

    Jenkell told BuzzFeed that she didn't expect the backlash caused by having the exhibit installed near Ground Zero.

    "Given the unique and justified sensitivities surrounding the World Trade Center, it came to my mind to propose to remove the sculpture showcasing the flag of Saudi Arabia, or relocate it to a less sensitive location," she told BuzzFeed.

    "But there is no way I can do such a thing, as the flag of Saudi Arabia is entirely part of the G-20, just like any other candy flag of this ‘Candy Nations' show. And G-20 is all about that: Peace, unity and love among mankind. Exactly [the] same meaning as my candy flags sculptures bringing joy and happiness to everyone on Earth."

    On Monday, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey revealed that it would be relocating the exhibition this week.

    ​"We have been in contact with the 9/11 Memorial and various stakeholders, and in full collaboration with the artist will relocate the exhibit from its current location," the Port Authority said in a recent statement. "We believe this solution respects the unique sensitivities of the site and preserves the artistic integrity of the exhibit." The Port Authority also confirmed that "Candy Nations" will be relocated to the Kennedy Airport AirTrain tram system this week.

    In 2014, freelance writer Brian McGlinchey launched the 28Pages project to expose links between Saudi Arabia and the September 11 terror attacks. The project focused on declassifying 28 pages of a congressional report on the US Intelligence Community's activities before and after the terror attacks, according to the project's website.

    ​The US government did partially declassify the 28 pages in 2016, but conducted about 90 redactions "due to national security" concerns that remain in place, according to the declassification review led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Sputnik previously reported.

    The partially declassified report released by Congress in July 2016 exposed that Saudi officials had direct connections to the 9/11 hijackers and possible involvement with supporting the attacks themselves. The report also showed that the FBI inexplicably failed to communicate to the CIA information about financial ties between Saudi royals and the 9/11 hijackers.

    Earlier this summer, advocacy group declassify911.org created a petition calling on the US government to declassify and release unredacted copies of 9/11 documents currently withheld from the American public.

    "Those relatively minimal documents that have been released by the FBI have been heavily redacted and have concealed the key information identifying the persons who established the support network for the al-Qaeda hijackers," the group writes on its website.

    "For example, an October 5, 2012, FBI report that was partially declassified in 2016 confirmed that Saudi government officials al-Thumairy and al-Bayoumi provided substantial assistance to the hijackers at the direction of other higher level Saudi government officials. But the names of those officials were redacted by the FBI, and the FBI has refused to publicly identify them," the advocacy group adds.


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    art exhibition, 9/11 Review Commission, 9/11 attacks, Saudi Arabia, New York, United States
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