Saudi Arabia's expulsion of Canada ambassador sends pointed message

Wednesday, 08 Aug, 2018

By contrast, the USA accounted for 62 per cent of that figure. Freeland said the embassy in Saudi Arabia is still in place and providing services to Canadians.

Canada last week said it was "gravely concerned" over a new wave of arrests, including award-winning gender rights activist Samar Badawi, pictured left.

Badawi was the first woman to sue her father to block him from preventing her from marrying the man she wanted to, and the first woman to sue the government to demand the right to vote, according to the State Department.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recently went on a global tour touting proposed economic reforms and promoting his vision for the kingdom as "the next Europe". Raif Badawi, who won Europe's top human rights prize in 2015, was later sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam while blogging.

His wife, Ensaf Haidar, and three children were granted Canadian citizenship earlier this summer, and live in Quebec's Eastern Townships. In 2014, the Canadian unit of USA weapons maker General Dynamics Corp (GD.N) won a contract worth up to $13 billion to build light-armored vehicles for Saudi Arabia, in what Ottawa said was the largest advanced manufacturing export win in Canadian history.

Amnesty International noted Ms Badawi has been repeatedly targeted and interrogated by Saudi security forces for her human rights activist.

Canada plans to seek help from United Arab Emirates and Britain to defuse an escalating diplomatic dispute with Saudi Arabia, sources said on Tuesday, as traders revealed the Arab state would no longer buy Canadian wheat and barley.

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But the harsh response didn't end there.

The Saudi Ministry of Media ordered the Twitter account of the Infographic KSA, @Infographic_KSA, that posted the photo shut down, apparently unamused by its invocation of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in NY.

Shortly after, the image was deleted and an apology was posted for the "inappropriate" image.

'Canada will always stand up for human rights, in Canada and around the world, and women's rights are human rights, ' Freeland told an audience in Vancouver. "We will never hesitate to promote these values, and we believe that this dialogue is critical to worldwide diplomacy", she said.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland hold a news conference after participating in the NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium July 12, 2018.

In recent months Saudi Arabia has lifted a ban on women driving, but it has also arrested activists, including more than a dozen high-profile campaigners for women's rights.