Saudi airline stops flights to Canada amid escalating diplomatic row

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The move followed the Kingdom's announcement yesterday that it was expelling the Canadian ambassador and had recalled its envoy while freezing all new trade, in protest at Ottawa's vigorous calls for the release of jailed activists.

The posts came as Saudi Arabia ordered Canada's ambassador to leave the country and froze all new trade and investment on Sunday. Media reports also suggest Saudi Arabia may cancel thousands of scholarships for students attending school in Canada.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland hold a news conference after participating in the NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium July 12, 2018. Responding to the Saudi move to freeze trade and expel the Canadian ambassador, Ottawa said, "Canada will always stand up for human rights in Canada and around the world, and women's rights are human rights".

Saudi Arabia's diplomatic spat with Canada prompted a tweet that touched a raw nerve in the kingdom: a photomontage of an Air Canada plane heading toward the iconic CN Tower in Toronto.

Her brother Mr Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for "insulting Islam" online back in 2014.

Among the arrested is Samar Badawi, an award-winning women's-rights activist who sought to abolish the country's male-guardianship laws.

Travel to the country will affected in light of an announcement from Saudia Airlines on Tuesday that it will suspend flights to and from Canada starting August 13.

Chrystia Freeland
Chrystia Freeland expressed concern surrounding the detainment of women's rights activists

The feud between the two countries has escalated quickly since it began Friday, when Canada's Ministry of Foreign Affairs raised concerns about the kingdom's human-rights record.

Traders said they had received an official notice from the Saudi Grains Organization (SAGO) about its decision.

Samar was arrested along with fellow campaigner Nassima al-Sadah last week, the latest victims of what Human Rights Watch called an "unprecedented government crackdown on the women's rights movement".

"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 government said. His wife, Ensaf Haidar, lives in Canada and recently became a Canadian citizen.

'Canada is easier to cut ties with than the rest, ' Bessma Momani, a professor at Canada's University of Waterloo, told AFP. 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.

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