AceShowbiz - Ryan Phillippe has responded to criticism for attending Saturday's (December 21) MDL Beast Festival in Saudi Arabia due to the country's controversial human rights laws.
Acts including Steve Aoki, David Guetta, Martin Garrix and DJ Tiesto, have been heavily criticised for appearing in the country, where the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community are still severely limited under the leadership of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his son, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Ryan, along with stars including Sofia Richie, Winnie Harlow, Alessandra Ambrosio, Joan Smalls, Irina Shayk, Luka Sabbat, and Armie Hammer were on the event's impressive guest list, but fans online were critical of their attendance after actress/model Emily Ratajkowski revealed she turned down an invitation to the festival.
After one follower questioned how much Ryan was being paid to attend, the "Cruel intentions" star responded: "Your government is without fault? Cool. I've never known of one. Progress and change takes time. It is happening here and was an awesome place to visit."
He added in an Instagram post: "i had a magical day with wonderful people. will prob add to this caption later when i gather my thoughts again."
"i love how we can find ways to connect through our human oneness, the pure desire for love and freedom. no matter where in the world. hoping those connections help to bring even more positive change and progress."
Emily revealed she was turning down an invite to the event in a statement to Instagram fashion page Diet Prada.
"It is very important to me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, freedom of expression and the right to a free press," she said. "I hope coming forward on this brings more attention to the injustices happening there."
Reports have claimed "six-figure sums were offered for attendance and geo-tagged posts" promoting the event.