There has been a political rift between Saudi Arabia and Canada.
The Saudi Arabian government has taken some drastic measures. Amongst other things, they have kicked out the Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, recalled their ambassador from Canada, suspended new trade deals with Canada, stopped Saudia Airlines direct flights to Toronto and have transferred Saudi scholarship students studying in Canada to other countries. Oops!
So what caused this reaction? A tweet from the Canadian Foreign Ministry!
Here is a tweet posted by the Canadian Foreign Ministry on Aug 3, 2018:
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
Who is Samar Badawi?
Samar Badawi is a very prominent human rights activist. She was recently jailed for campaigning to bring about change to women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. Her brother Raif Badawi, was jailed in 2012 for openly criticizing Islam on his blog. Raif’s wife and children moved to Quebec and recently became Canadian citizens.
Canada’s foreign ministry tweeted to show their support toward the Badawi family.
What are Samar Badawi and other activists campaigning for?
Saudi Arabia runs according to a particular type of Islamic law called Sharia. The law has a set of practices and traditions that guide Muslims in their daily lives. This conservative system currently protects women, some think a little too much!
The crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MbS) has been slowly bringing reform to the conservative society by allowing women to drive amongst other things, but there are many things Saudi women can’t do. For example, they can’t marry, travel, open a bank account, or get a job without the permission of their male guardians – father, brother or husband. They must always appear in public wearing a full-length black abaya.
Women activists, including Samar Badawi have been fighting for more reforms. The government has jailed several women’s rights activists for fighting for the right to drive amongst other liberties. It is the Saudi government’s way of showing that they do not like any interference with their system.
Why did Saudi Arabia take this personally?
They have made it clear that they will not tolerate any interference in the internal affairs of their country.
Today, the Saudi Arabian government has issued a statement saying that they won’t stop trading oil with Canada. That’s a relief, but we wonder what will need to happen in the next few days to solve this diplomatic crisis!
Written By: Shruti Divecha