After Canadian foreign ministry criticized Saudi Arabia over its appalling human rights record and specifically called for the release of Samar Badawi, who is the sister of Raif Badawi, a writer and secular activist who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for “insulting Islam through electronic channels” in 2012, the ultraconservative kingdom has started a bizarre propaganda campaign.
At first, the Saudi kingdom expelled Canadian envoy and suspended all new trade and investment deals with the country. Moreover, it also pulled all Saudi students from Canadian universities.
Meanwhile, Saudi propaganda against Canada has only intensified.
Rather ironically, Riyadh is concerned about the oppression women face in Canada. A Kuwaiti commentator, Fahad Alshlimi, appeared on Saudi TV and claimed Canada has one of the world’s highest rates of oppression against women.
In Saudi Arabia, even as Mohammed bin Salman allowed women to drive without a male guardian, the regime continued to arrest women’s rights activists.
Saudi women are not allowed out without “permission” from a male guardian. Marital rape is not criminalized. Domestic violence is not criminalized. And in case anyone forgot, this is what a conference on the subject of “Women in Society” looked like.
The royal kingdom has retaliated by expressing support for the Quebec cause and concern for the fate of Indigenous women in Canada.
Saudi news channels have run entire segments lamenting the “human rights abuse” by Canada and government-friendly Twitter users periodically shared articles on homelessness in Canada.
Twitter user Iyad el-Baghdadi, an Oslo-based refugee and commentator on Arab affairs, walked his followers through the many accusations Saudi Arabia has racked "prisoners of conscience.”
Government-owned Al Arabiya ran a sympathy campaign for Ernst Zundel who has purportedly been imprisoned for three years.
Zundel was a Holocaust denier and was convicted of spreading false news in harm of public interest. extradited to Germany in 2005 and did not visit Canada afterwards. He died in 2017.
Saudi owned @AlArabiya is calling out Canada's persecution of prisoners of conscience, pointing to the case of Holocaust denier and Nazi sympathizer Ernst Zundel (!), who hasn't been in Canada anyway since getting extradited to Germany in 2005. Also he died last year. pic.twitter.com/4VMhP8Dpyz— ?yad el-Baghdadi | ???? ???????? (@iyad_elbaghdadi) August 7, 2018
Another person who awakened Saudi Arabia’s humanist side was Jordan Peterson, whom Saudi Arabia claimed was another “prisoner of conscience.”
As anyone who does not live in a highly policed state where the production and inflow of knowledge are heavily surveilled, Peterson is a bestselling author of books whose plays sell out across continents. Unlike Badawi, who has been sentenced to 1000 lashes and 10 years in prison, Peterson enjoys a pretty good life.
Peterson is a controversial psychology professor who has spoken out against political correctness but has never been arrested.
Saudi news channels also dwell on Canada’s treatment of its minorities.
Commentators on a Saudi TV agreed that Canada treated its minorities worse than Myanmar treated Rohingya. This seems strange coming from a country where non-Muslims are not allowed to practice their faith openly.
Guy on Saudi TV: "Canada treats its native population like [Myanmar treats] the Rohingya". Other guy agrees and says "Yes it also has the highest suicide rate". https://t.co/gWDRVvxrog— ?yad el-Baghdadi | ???? ???????? (@iyad_elbaghdadi) August 7, 2018
Saudi news channels seem to have hit gold after they discovered this image of a protestor carrying a placard that read “Canada land of the Homeless.”
Canada does have a problem with homelessness.
Currently, approximately 30,000 Canadians are homeless every night, an appalling statistic for a wealthy country. But this does not acquit Saudi Arabia.
According to a 2007 report, there were 83,000 homeless children in the KSA, many of whom are foreign workers who would rather be homeless than live under abusive employers.
Guest "expert" on Saudi television: Canada had the world's highest rates of persecution of women https://t.co/ibLyz93l4n— ?yad el-Baghdadi | ???? ???????? (@iyad_elbaghdadi) August 7, 2018
Saudi Arabia’s attack against on Canada is helmed by the statement, “Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
Maybe, it’s time Riyadh reflects on the statement as it applies to the kingdom.
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters, Faisal Al Nasser