Saudi Arabia appears to threaten Canada with 9/11-style attack
10 August, 2018, 16:28
The standoff pits a Saudi government that's slowly opening the door to women's rights against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, an outspoken champion of women's advancement, who named a gender-balanced cabinet shortly after his 2015 election.
The country's state airline also cancelled all direct flights to Toronto.
Officials said they would cover cancellation fees, issue refunds and find alternative flights for stranded travellers, according to a story on the CBC National website.
"Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi, " the tweet said.
Amid a diplomatic spat between Saudi Arabia and Canada, a pro-government Saudi Twitter account shared - and then deleted - a digitally altered image that appeared to show a plane flying toward the skyline of Toronto.
Morneau's comments reiterated the position expressed Monday by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, but did not directly address the larger question of what sort of lasting economic impact the dispute could have, including on Canada's $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia.
Plans to relocate 7,000 students and their families in Canada to other countries, primarily the United States and Britain, were already underway, education ministry official Jassem al-Harbash said. Saudi Arabia has claimed that the arrests targeted those who sought to "destabilize the Kingdom", and were done by following the country's legal guidelines.
However, the row threatens to undermine Riyadh's drive to attract foreign investors, an effort hit by a series of sweeping policy initiatives by the top oil exporter's absolute rulers.
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Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, estimated the overall trade relationship between Canada and Saudi Arabia totals between $3 and $4 billion a year.
His case long has been raised by global human rights groups and Western diplomats, including Canadians, who have called on Saudi Arabia to free him.
The trouble started Sunday when that country abruptly announced a series of measures created to punish Canada for speaking out about the jailing of human rights activists.
While Canada's expression of concern about the arrests of human rights activists wasn't unusual from their perspective, the Saudi reaction has been extreme.
Ms Badawi was given the US International Women of Courage Award in 2012 and is known for challenging Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system.
Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian Ambassador Dennis Horak, who was given 24 hours to leave the country. Her former husband, Waleed Abu al-Khair, is now serving a 15-year prison sentence for his human rights work and her brother, the famed activist and blogger - Raif Badawi - has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting a website for public discourse.
Neighbours and allies Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates said they stood with Riyadh, although they did not announce similar measures.
Castellanos added the decision by Saudi Arabia is also a hit to the university's diversity, calling the Saudi students very important cohorts of the U of R.
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They can also cause War!' So today's breathless headlines are, as the Powerline blog's Paul Mirengoff called them , "fake news". It is, however, against the law for United States campaigns to receive donations or items of value from foreigners.