Published: Tue, August 07, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Saudia suspends flights to Canada, escalating diplomatic spat

Saudia suspends flights to Canada, escalating diplomatic spat

The Saudi Foreign Ministry took exception to the wording of the tweet, calling it an attempt by Canada to interfere with the country's internal affairs.

The posts came as Saudi Arabia ordered Canada's ambassador to leave the country and froze all new trade and investment on Sunday.

European traders said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia's main wheat-buying agency has told grains exporters it will no longer accept Canadian-origin wheat and barley.

"We are always going to speak up for human rights, we are always going to speak up for women's rights and that is not going to change", Freeland said.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir countered shortly after in an Arabic tweet saying the "surprising Canadian position is based on inaccurate information, the arrests are subject to our judicial systems that guarantee their rights".

"Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi", the tweet read.

Samar's brother, blogger Raif Badawi, was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for "insulting Islam" in a case that sparked an worldwide outcry.

"Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi's sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia".

Chrystia Freeland
Chrystia Freeland expressed concern surrounding the detainment of women's rights activists

Saudi state airline Saudia also announced Monday that it would suspend flights to and from Toronto starting August 13. "But I would not deliver Canadian grains to Saudi Arabia now, even on previous contracts", the trader added.

Media reports also suggest Saudi Arabia may cancel thousands of scholarships for students now attending school in Canada.

Speaking in Mississauga, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said it's important the government bring Canadian values into its dealings around the world.

"For Saudi Arabia to punish Canada, it's fairly easy because we're not an important country for them, either are they for us", he said. His wife, Ensaf Haidar, lives in Canada and recently became a Canadian citizen.

Mr Alzayani criticised Canada's statements and unsubstantiated allegations that he said violate the global diplomatic norms and represent a flagrant and unacceptable interference in the internal affairs and encroach on the United Nations charter, the Bahrain News Agency reported.

There could be a sentiment among allies that, "Finally the Trudeau government is getting poked back in the eye by the Saudis".

There are believed to be more than 12,000 Saudi students studying in Canada.

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