Canada Seeks Allies' Help in Cooling Saudi Tensions

Saudi Arabia Expels Canadian Ambassador, To Withdraw Students From Canada Over Women's Rights Criticism

Saudi Arabia Expels Canadian Ambassador, To Withdraw Students From Canada Over Women's Rights Criticism

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

Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador on Monday and froze "all new business" with Ottawa over its criticism of the ultraconservative kingdom's arrest of women's rights activists - yet another warning to the West reflecting Riyadh's newly assertive foreign policy.

The global feud began with the Canadian government's criticism of Saudi Arabia's arrests of women's rights activists.

Riyadh said that amounted to "a blatant interference in the Kingdom's domestic affairs, against basic global norms and all worldwide protocols".

It estimates that at least 15 Saudi activists have been arrested since May 15, though some estimate the actual number of unreported arrests may be higher.

The Education Ministry began developing a plan to remove thousands of Saudi scholarship students out of Canadian schools and into schools in other countries.

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Human rights groups reported that Ms Badawi was also detained last week, along with fellow women's rights campaigner Nassima al-Sadah.

In the first comments by Washington since the dispute erupted, a U.S. State Department official said the United States had asked Riyadh for details on the detention of activists.

Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for "insulting Islam" online back in 2014. "We are always going to speak up for human rights; we're always going to speak up for women's rights; and that is not going to change", she told reporters in Vancouver on Monday.

"Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this hard time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi", Freeland tweeted.

Saudi state media initially claimed the plane tweet was a tribute to the departing ambassador sent by a low level staffer (the Saudi equivalent of the "social media intern" defense).

Sources told Reuters news agency that Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will most likely turn to the UAE for assistance, after Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic and trade ties with Canada.

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Canada's largest refinery in Saint John, N.B., owned by Irving Oil, relies on Saudi Arabia for almost 40 per cent of its crude supply, according 2018 statistics from the National Energy Board.

The Saudi foreign ministry ordered Canada's ambassador, Dennis Horak, to leave the country and called the use of "immediately release" in Canada's tweet "unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable in relations between states".

Lindsay say the university is meeting with all students to assess their situation and needs. Saudi Arabia said it would recall its ambassador to Canada as well.

The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Palestinian Authority have all come out in support of Saudi Arabia, as did Comoros, Djibouti and Mauritania.

Saudi Arabia doesn't want to be lectured to by the West and they are delivering the message.

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