Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Canada affecting worldwide students in the Maritimes

  • Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Canada affecting worldwide students in the Maritimes

Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Canada affecting worldwide students in the Maritimes

Later, airline Saudia suspended all flights to and from Toronto and Riyadh said it will relocate the thousands of Saudi students studying in Canada.

The Saudi government on Sunday recalled its ambassador to Ottawa, barred Canada's ambassador to Riyadh and placed a ban on new trade, denouncing Canada for urging the release of rights activists.

The first Canadian source said Ottawa had no regrets about speaking out on human rights in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry took exception to the use of the term "immediately release", calling it "unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable in relations between states".

The dispute appears to have been sparked by tweets from Canadian diplomats, including one from Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, who said she was "very alarmed" by news of the arrest of Samar Badawi, the sister of prominent activist and writer Raif Badawi.

Samar's brother, blogger Raif Badawi, was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for "insulting Islam" in a case that sparked an global outcry.

All Saudi Arabian students now studying in Canada will be transferred to other countries. The U.S. also said it continued to encourage the Saudi government to "ensure all are afforded due process".

Among those arrested was Samar Badawi, whose brother Raif Badawi was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Saudi Arabia considers Canada's comments an interference in its affairs that require what it calls a "sharp response".

"Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada, means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada's internal affairs", the Saudi ministry's said.

Infographic KSA, which is believed to be owned by a Saudi youth organization and backed by the Saudi government, has a history of posting infographics that support Saudi government positions and foreign policy. The country has already demanded its approximately 15,000 students studying in Canada return home within a month.

When asked about the contract, Freeland said the government "looks forward" to hearing from Riyadh about the future of the deal.

Analysts say the dispute between Riyadh and Ottawa shows Saudi Arabia won't accept any outside criticism and will continue flexing its muscles overseas, especially as the kingdom enjoys a closer relationship with President Donald Trump.

"These countries are able to host the students, and we at the ministry are committed to facilitating the students' transfers so they can easily complete their education", he said.

Spokesperson Heather Nauert added during a briefing with reporters on Tuesday that the US has raised similar issues with Saudi Arabia.