Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi’s sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this difficult time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi.— Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) August 2, 2018
After Canada demanded Saudi Arabia to release its jailed activists, the conservative kingdom accused the country for treating it like a “banana republic,” asking the government of Justin Trudeau for an apology – and further enhancing a diplomatic row between the two countries.
“You can criticize us about human rights, women’s rights … that’s your right. You can sit down and talk about it, but demand the immediate release? What are we, a banana republic? Would any country accept it?” said the foreign minister, Adel bin Ahmed Al-Juebir, at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
After Canadian foreign minister criticized the Gulf kingdom for its appalling human rights record and demanded jailed activists who spoke about women’s right to be free, the conservative kingdom couldn’t help its entitlement and penalized Canada in August.
Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and her department slammed the recent arrests of rights activists and called for their immediate release. Since then, KSA stopped all its trade relations and investment deals with the country; it also blocked grain imports, cancelled scholarships of some over 16,000 students studying in Canada and expelled Canada’s ambassador.
Freeland had asked for the release of jailed activists Samar Badawi and her brother, Raif Badawi. Raif Badawi’s wife and children are Canadian citizens.
Canadian Department of Global Affairs also echoed Freeland’s sentiments and asked the conservative kingdom to immediately release the detained activists.
Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists.— Foreign Policy CAN (@CanadaFP) August 3, 2018
But now the Saudi foreign minister demands an apology from Canada for the “outrageous” mistake of siding with humanity. Al-Juebir reacted to the criticism, by slamming Canada’s treatment of indigenous communities and highlighting the issues of separatism in French-speaking Quebec.
"We demand the immediate release and independence of Quebec, granting of equal rights to Canadian Indians... You can sit down and talk about it, but demand the immediate release [of the Saudis]? What are we, a banana republic? Would any country accept it? No! We don't."
“We don’t want to be a political football in Canada’s domestic politics. Find another ball to play with. It’s very easy to fix. Apologize and say you made a mistake,” said Al-Juebir.
Earlier, Saudi Arabia branded women rights activists who demanded a right to drive in the country as “traitors.” Even though Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman made headlines lifting the women driving ban in an attempt to cultivate a modern image of Saudi Arabia to the outside world, the stark reality that the people who spoke for the ban to be lifted are still arrested, exists.
And now after another country asked the kingdom to release detained activists, the kingdom’s behavior speaks volume of their dictatorial behavior.
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