Saudi Arabia, called out for human rights violations, goes after Canada

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Justin Trudeau, though I tend to side with his political positions, but now I must strongly applaud the stand of his government and its ministers in calling out Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations. Referring in particular to Samur Badawi, imprisoned again for fighting for human rights and women’s rights, and including her imprisoned brother Raif Badawi, jailed (and flogged) for apostasy and “insulting Islam”, the Canadian government took a strong (and almost unique) public stand against Saudi Arabia:

This is from Canada’s foreign minister:

I’d rank Saudi Arabia and Syria just slightly above North Korea in the degree to which they violate the human rights of their citizens; all are odious countries and deserve the world’s opprobrium. But of course we need the oil and don’t want to offend monsters like Assad. (North Korea has been criticized, but now Trump is almost praising its leaders.) So kudos to Canada for going public; it’s the right thing to do. And it’s shameful that the U.S. doesn’t have the moxie to join our northern neighbor, but it will be a cold day in August when the Trump administration starts criticizing any country for human rights abuses.

Saudi Arabia, full of hubris, of course got back at Canada, recalling its ambassador, expelling the Canadian ambassador in Riyadh, freezing new trade agreements, and cutting off all scholarships supporting Saudi students in Canada. It also went on a public media campaign:

As Ali Rizvi noted, Saudi Arabia even darkly threatened Canada with this now deleted Twitter statement from Saudi state media.

Now, as described in this National Post article (click on screenshot), Saudi Arabia is going after Canada with a campaign whose theme is “you’re worse than we are.” (Click on screenshot to see the piece.)

Some of Saudi’s accusations have merit: for example, Canada has treated its indigenous people abysmally. But they’re trying now to rectify that. I suppose you could say that Saudis are now allowing women to drive, but overall, and considering women, I think most of us would rather live in Canada than Saudi Arabia. Here are the other accusations that Saudi has leveled against Canada, all of which are discussed and answered by The Post:

  • Jordan Peterson is a “Canadian political prisoner.” That’s insane; he’s free. Raif and Samar Badawi, on the other hand, are political prisoners.  Here I’ll mention the horrible punishments Saudi inflicts on criminals, including beheading and amputation of body parts. You can also be executed for blasphemy, atheism, and adultery in Saudi, but these aren’t even real crimes in Canada.
  • Canada has a lot of homeless people. True, and it could always do better, but Saudi Arabia has even more: one estimate is that it has 83,000 homeless children, as well as arresting beggars and journalists who try to document the Kingdom’s poorer quarters.
  • “Canada is one of the worst oppressors of women.” This is absolutely unbelievable—and laughable. Much of this is based on the reported incidents of domestic abuse and spousal rape in Canada, but those are not crimes in Saudi Arabia. In contrast, women have many more rights in Canada than in Saudi Arabia, including the right to go outside without wearing a sack and the ability to make decisions about travel and employment without consulting a male “guardian.”
  • Racism is rife in Canada.  The support for this, mentioned by a Saudi lobbyist in Washington, is simply that a Canadian woman verbally abused a table full of Afghan men. In contrast, Saudi Arabia goes after its own minorities, including Shia Muslims, and bans the public practice of any religion save Islam. They also use “guest workers” as a form of slavery.
  • Quebec Francophones are an oppressed minority. I’ll let you decide about that. Which would you rather be: a French-speaking Canadian or a Saudi woman?
  • Canada supports international terrorism.  Given Saudi Arabia’s record on this, they should just keep their yap shut. The only evidence given for Canadian support of terrorism is the Saudi claim that by criticizing Saudi Arabia, Canada is supporting terrorists.

Canada is a great country and a good place to live—far, far better on human rights issues than Saudi Arabia, and far better than the U.S. in calling out other countries’ abuse of human rights. We should stand with Canada. I do, but our administration won’t.

Here’s are two video clips that explain and document the new fight between Canada and Saudi Arabia. The “We Will Boycott Tim Horton’s” in the first clip cracks me up.

An eight-minute CBC news report emphasizing the failure of Canada’s allies to join it in condemning Saudi Arabia:

h/t: Nilou


  1. mikeyc
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Bravo for the Canucks. Shame on the US (of course) and the UK and …well everyone else for not having Canada’s back on this.

    It’s laughable that the Sauds think they’re fooling anyone with their “Canada is worse than us” nonsense.

    • Posted August 12, 2018 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      The Saudis know, as does Trump, that there are many fools out there who will believe the most outrageous of lies. You just need to keep repeating the lies ever more vehemently.

    • Posted October 7, 2018 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      + 1

  2. Ed Collins
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    It’s too bad that while living in the Middle East, these pathetic pin heads also live in the Middle Ages.

  3. Posted August 12, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink


  4. Posted August 12, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    One article noted that the UK had been more critical of Saudi Arabia than Canada by far. However, many Saudis (princes?) have expensive homes in London and there is probably more trade between the countries. So Saudi Arabia chose Canada to set an example (send a warning?) to other countries. So far, it appears to have worked in silencing others who undoubtedly would recognize the hypocrisy of the Saudi claims.

  5. Mark Joseph
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Rats. No Tim Hortons within a thousand miles of where I am. If there were, I’d head over to one and make a purchase now.

    • Posted August 13, 2018 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      I know. Anyway, technically speaking, Tim Horton’s is now ‘Merican, since Warren Buffet’s company bought it out.

  6. Merilee
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink


  7. Eric Grobler
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Peterson’s tweets on the matter:

  8. alexandra Moffat
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Of Course the Saudis would not get after Canada so seriously if it were not for trump’s support of the Saudis – so the USA is guilty, too. Some day we may regret not being Canada’s best friend. Our new president, someday soon, should make communication with Canada a first priority.

  9. Posted August 12, 2018 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Canada needs to back up its tweets by canceling its pending sale of armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia. It is no use posturing on twitter about suppression unless you are willing to actually do something about it.

  10. Mark R.
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Trump would never speak out about this because he undoubtedly sides with Saudi Arabia over Canada. He loves authoritarian governments, not democracies. Plus the Saudis treated him like a king when he visited and they allowed him to touch their magic glowing orb; Canada doesn’t even have a magic glowing orb.

    • Posted August 13, 2018 at 2:55 am | Permalink

      Time to make one!

      • chris moffatt
        Posted August 13, 2018 at 7:12 am | Permalink

        Maybe Peter Jackson could supply a used palantir from LOTR? how cool would that be?

  11. CAS
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    The Saudis follow a version of Salafism (Wahhabism) that shares a lot with ISIS making it violent and self-righteous. The wealthy princes want to keep their power, so they usually don’t openly act outside their own sphere of influence. The 911 attack seems to be an example where some supported terrorism in the USA. Basically, Salafists believe Islam should return to the beginning and practice Islam using Mohammad and his early followers as examples. This naturally leads to violence directed at unbelievers, inhumanity, misogyny and ignorance.
    For example, in 2010 the Grand Mufti, the most senior and influential religious leader, was quoted as saying “The Quran with its stories and knowledge are sufficient for us… we don’t need the Torah, or Gospels, or any other book”.
    The president of Medina university Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ibn Baz wrote a book supporting an Earth-centered solar system In an earlier edition he had called doubters of this stupid unbelievers (hell-bound).

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 12, 2018 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      The Saudis not only follow it, they’ve actively promoted it in Wahhabist madrassas. The uneasy deal the House of Saud has struck with radical Islamic clerics is that it will fund the madrassas with its petro-riyals so long as the terrorism the madrassas breed is kept out of Saudi Arabia itself.

  12. Mark R.
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    I saw this in the most recent FFRF email/news letter.

    Honoring Activist Ensaf Haidar
    The Canadian Ambassador was expelled from Saudi Arabia this week after Canada’s foreign minister called for the release of political prisoners Samar and Raif Badawi. Canada’s admirable interest in ending the illegal and inhumane treatment of the Badawis is due in large part to the advocacy of Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar. FFRF is thrilled to be honoring Haidar as the upcoming recipient of the $10,000 Henry Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalism Award for her courageous advocacy.

  13. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    I’m ashamed that my country’s truly pathetic government has not offered its support to you Canadians. There are plenty of Brits who stand with you on this and share your values, please remember that, and bear in mind that we have been saddled with a spineless, solipsistic Tory party pulled back and forth by populist currents and an opposition party led by a complete and utter cult.

    I would shout it if I could: fuck Saudi Arabia, a thuggish country run by bullies and enriched by sheer geographical fluke.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted August 12, 2018 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      I agree with almost all of that, up to a point. Of course we should have spoken up for Batawi long ago, and we should speak up for his brave sister now. And of course KSA is a serial human rights abusers, and we should call them out on that as well.

      But I have to question whether Canada’s approach, much as (personally) I applaud and support it, is the best way to achieve the objective of getting Raif and his sister freed. Like it or not, we do actually have to deal with this regime. The UK does have some influence with the Saudis; but it is not best exercised by shouting at them in public.

      I guess this may make me seem very wet. But I have quite a bit of experience of dealing with Saudis; and blanket condemnation of their entire existence and culture is not the way to get them to change their behaviour.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted August 12, 2018 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        My posts aren’t suggestions for the future direction of UK foreign policy rhetoric, I promise. They’re just posts, with some salty language occasionally thrown in. So in case it wasn’t clear, I definitely _don’t_ think ‘fuck Saudi Arabia’ would be the best way for the UK govt to start any future communication between it and the Saudis.

  14. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Seems to me that Trump’s charming style of governance is having an influence on governments outside of the western world too. Who’d have thought Saudi Arabia could take lessons in thuggish nastiness and cheap aggression from the the American president?

    • Taz
      Posted August 12, 2018 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      Right. Saudi Arabia was a bastion of decency and enlightenment up until 2 years ago.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted August 13, 2018 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        Really? They were throwing out Twitter and social media rhetoric like this before Trump? I don’t think so.

  15. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    (North Korea has been criticized, but now Trump is almost praising its leaders.)

    He’s doing worse than that; he’s ignoring NoKo’s continued stockpiling of fissile material and renewed missile production — all because admitting them would divulge the vacuousness of his yooge “win” in Singapore.

  16. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Saudi Arabia’s criticisms of Canada recalls the old Soviet Union’s denunciation of the US for civil-rights abuses. The allegations were accurate, as far as they went, especially during the Jim Crow era, but to hear them come out of the mouth of a thug like Joe Stalin — the architect of the Holodomor genocide, the employer of Lavrentiy Beria — was ridiculous to the point of perversity. So, too, Saudi Arabia.

  17. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Don’t expect our Dear Leader to follow suit in denouncing Saudi Arabian human-rights abuses. The Saudis gave Trump his first state visit, replete with sword dancing, glowing orbs, the whole shebang. Plus, our Prince Jared is butt-buddies with their new crown prince Mohammad bin Salman. They stay up all night braiding each other’s hair and swapping state secrets gleaned from our president’s daily intelligence brief about which Saudis have spoken subversively against the House of King Salman or been critical of Donald Trump.

    • Posted August 12, 2018 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      Did he bow to them?

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 12, 2018 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        He saves that move for Vlad the Impaler.

        Trump also hasn’t had the effrontery to wear a tan suit the way Obama did, so restoring dignity to the office of the presidency!

  18. Jonathan Dore
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Right on cue, the lickspittles at al-Jazeera were showing a documentary yesterday on the Canadian residential schools system. Ooh yes, we’re so impressed by your even-handed concern for human rights.

  19. Posted August 12, 2018 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    I was brought up to believe that being Canadian is a blessing and a boast. Nice to see that is still true.

  20. Carl Morano
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    The stone age savages will not go quietly. We must unite to crush them. They must either accept enlightenment values and step into 2018 or rot in the sand like the sub-humans they are.

    • mikeyc
      Posted August 12, 2018 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      Trolls are SO boring.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 12, 2018 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

      “Savages” and “sub-humans,” really? You sound like a real paragon of Enlightenment values yourself.

  21. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    emphasizing the failure of Canada’s allies to join it

    Once again, I do not think that is entirely true. Belatedly, after Canada contacted EU, our representative for foreign affairs put official questions and demands to Saudi Arabia:

    “BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union has asked Saudi Arabia to shed light on the arrests and charges facing women human rights activists, saying that the detainees should be granted due process to defend themselves.”

    “Earlier on Saturday, Mogherini spoke to Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on the phone, with both sides agreeing to intensify their cooperation in human rights as well as other areas.”

  22. Brian Tucker
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Speaking as a secular Canadian, I say with some pride that perhaps an exceptionally large number of Canadians are, in fact, terrorists and supporters of international terrorism, given Saudi Arabia’s definition of Atheism as a form of terrorism. At the same time, most of us are supporters of religious freedom while deploring actual acts of religiously and ideologically motivated terrorism.

    • Desnes Diev
      Posted August 13, 2018 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      When you realize that people of the alleged* “oppressed French-speaking minority” can become Prime Minister (J. Trudeau, P. Martin, J. Chrétien, to cite those from 2000 to today; only S. Harper was not from Quebec), you should also be proud to be presented as minority-oppressors by KSA.

      When was the last time a minority acted at the highest government level in KSA? Probably never, and it would be a miracle for candidates that are Shia, females, or atheists to succeed.

      * I am québécois.

      • Desnes Diev
        Posted August 13, 2018 at 6:48 am | Permalink

        I should have wrote “Canadians/they” and not “you” in my message. I am sorry for the mistake.

  23. sang1ee
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    This is political gold for Trudeau. Hilarious behavior on the Saudi’s part. They knew Trump and most of the world wouldn’t say a peep so they unleashed the trolls on us. Just hilarious.

  24. Colin
    Posted August 12, 2018 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Again, Pat Condell says it so well:

  25. Posted August 13, 2018 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    I had to chuckle at the idea of Quebec Francophones being an oppressed minority. Considering the population of Quebec and the power they wield in both the federal government and the civil service*, I would hardly call them oppressed.

    *I personally know people that changed the pronunciation of their name to sound more French, so that they wouldn’t be overlooked for promotions. If you can’t speak French, you rapidly hit a glass ceiling.

  26. Rasmo Carenna
    Posted August 13, 2018 at 1:47 am | Permalink

    Not that these arguments need being taken seriously but, regarding the treatment of indigenous people… well, what happened with the Jews living in what now is Saudi Arabia after Muhammad became the prophet of that thing called Islam?

  27. Posted August 13, 2018 at 2:57 am | Permalink

    Ah, the tu quoque fallacy. Classic.

  28. Diane G
    Posted August 13, 2018 at 5:10 am | Permalink


  29. Posted August 13, 2018 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    I’d much rather live in Canada than Saudi Arabia, for many reasons. And considering the president we’ve got now, I’m seriously considering moving there from the USA.

  30. Posted August 13, 2018 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    I entirely agree with the original post, overall, but was puzzled by this statement “But of course we need the oil and don’t want to offend monsters like Assad.”

    Surely Assad is one of the few tyrants of the Middle East that the US and European powers have seen it fit to offend. He’s very firmly Putin’s man and has frustrated our governments by failing to collapse in the face of the rebellions in Syria which ‘we’ initially encouraged and which, with Russian assistance, he has brutally suppressed.

    • Posted October 7, 2018 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      That encouragement was not very spectacular.

  31. Posted August 13, 2018 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    I have a feeling that the Saudi prince is going over-the-top ballistic because a woman dared to admonish him. (The first tweet was by Chrystia Freeland.) All the more reason for our allies to stop hiding behind their fans and support our government’s stance, a stance also taken by the UN.

  32. Posted August 17, 2018 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    It it any wonder that I and a lot of people call the place Saudi Barbaria!

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