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Twitter War, Eh? Saudi Arabia Expels Canadian Ambassador Over Tweet Criticizing Activists’ Arrests

Twitter is apparently the new source for international conflict.

After being criticized by the Canadian embassy for arresting human rights activists, Saudi Arabia reacted by expelling the Canadian ambassador and recalling its own envoy from Canada.

According to the Times of Israel, two activists were arrested last week: Nassima al- Sadah and Samar Badawi, a Saudi Arabian-American woman who challenged the kingdom’s laws regarding guardianship and is currently campaigning for the release of her brother who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for “insulting Islam.”

This comes after several arrests of activists which Human Rights Watch describes as an “unprecedented government crackdown on the women’s rights movement.”

In response to the arrests, the Embassy of Canada to Saudi Arabia tweeted that it was “deeply concerned” and urged the kingdom to “release them immediately and all other peaceful activists in the field.”

The tweet upset the kingdom so much that their Foreign Ministry crafted an entire thread of 10 tweets in response, claiming the “negative and surprising attitude of #Canada is an entirely false claim and utterly incorrect.”

In the thread, they announce that they have been briefed about the remarks by the Canadian Embassy, in regards to “civil society rights activists,” which the foreign ministry oddly puts in quotation marks.

The kingdom goes on to accuse Canada of interfering in internal affairs and violating its sovereignty claiming Canada is acting “in contravention of the most basic international norms and all the charters governing relations between States.”

The foreign ministry even goes so far as to call the Canadian position “an attack” on the kingdom and claims a response “requires a firm stance to deter who attempts to undermine the sovereignty of KSA.”

“Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from #Canada, means that we are allowed to interfere in #Canada’s internal affairs,” the ministry also tweeted. It is unclear what human rights positions Saudi Arabia will have the upper leg in criticizing Canada for.

The thread then announces the expulsion of the Canadian ambassador and adds that Saudi Arabia will enact the “freezing of all new trade and investment transactions.”

The kingdom gave the Canadian ambassador just 24 hours to leave the country.

This comes after Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman has come into the international spotlight for making small changes to the kingdom’s severe gender and religious laws, including allowing women to drive and opening different venues for entertainment such as movie theaters and music festivals to mixed-gender crowds.

Despite these modest changes, it’s clear that Saudi Arabia has a long way to go in terms of allowing nonviolent activists to push for gender equality and human rights in the kingdom.

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