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Tue 14 Aug 2018 09:50 AM

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Saudi media, social media users slam Canada's 'poor human rights record'

Saudi citizens have increasingly taken to social media to voice their support for the kingdom amidst a growing diplomatic spat with Canada

Saudi media, social media users slam Canada's 'poor human rights record'
The Canadian Embassy in the Saudi capital Riyadh. Saudi Arabia said it was expelled the Canadian ambassador and while froze all new trade in retaliations for Ottawa's calls for the release of jailed activists Photo: NASSER ALHARBI/AFP/Getty Images.

Saudi media outlets and social media users have taken aim at Canada amidst its ongoing diplomatic spat with the kingdom by highlighting what some Saudis have said is an “abysmal” human rights record.

Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya, for example, ran a segment concerning the allegedly poor conditions faced by inmates of Canadian prisons.

The same segment also named University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson and former University of Ottawa professor Denis Rancourt as “political prisoners” despite the fact that neither of the two is currently incarcerated.

Additionally, some Saudi twitter users have voiced their criticism of Canada’s treatment of its homeless, and have re-tweeted photographs and articles concerning the levels of homelessness in the North American country.

Other Saudi media outlets and social media outlets have highlighted what they say is Canada’s poor treatment of woman.

Kuwaiti commentator Fahad Alshlimi, for example, said on TV that Canada “has one of the highest levels” of female oppression in the world, while @AmaniAAJ, a popular Saudi Twitter account with more than 196,000 followers, highlighted the “mystery” of 1,000 women murdered in Canada, although she did not provide more detail on what she was referring to. 

Several Saudi television commentators also compared Canada’s treatment of its indigenous First Nations population to Myanmar’s treatment of its Muslim Rohingya minority.

Racism in Canada was a popular thread with supports of Saudi Arabia. Salman Al-Ansari, the founder and chairman of the Washington DC-based Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee, for example, posted a video of a Canadian woman on a racist tirade against a Syrian living in Canada, with the caption “racism in Canada is very concerning!”

Some Saudi social media users have also taken to Twitter to express their support for an independent Quebec.

The dispute between the two countries stems from a recent statement from Canada’s foreign ministry in which the country said it was "gravely concerned" over a wave of arrests of women and human rights campaigners in the kingdom.

In response, Saudi Arabia expelled Ottawa’s ambassador in Riyadh, froze trade and investment relations with Canada and suspended academic scholarships to Canada, with the Saudi foreign ministry saying the Canadian position is “an overt and blatant interference in the internal affairs of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”