Within hours of Saudi Arabia expelling Canada’s ambassador, the country’s broadcasters and pro-government social media accounts ramped into high gear digging up dirt on its newest enemy.
A recurring theme of Saudi attacks against Canada is “those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” an expression that is roughly the same in both English and Arabic.
For this argument to hold up, though, it has placed Saudi propagandists in the uncomfortable position of having to prove that Canada is a pariah state of oppression, death and misery.
Below, a quick summary on how they did.
Special thanks to Rev. Majed El Shafie, founder of the Toronto-based non-profit One Free World International, for helping with Arabic translation. We’ve written before about his work to rescue Yazidi refugees from Iraqi Kurdistan.
Jordan Peterson is a Canadian political prisoner
This whole spat began because Canada has publicly campaigned against the jailing of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi. As a result, the easiest way to discredit Canada would be to find evidence of us similarly jailing political dissidents. On Monday, the Saudi-owned TV channel Al Arabiya ran a segment on the allegedly appalling conditions in Canadian prisons. Amid claims that 75 per cent of Canadian detainees die before standing trial, the segment also claimed that University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson is a Canadian prisoner of conscience. Peterson certainly has his qualms with the Canadian justice system; he first rose to prominence as a critic of an Ontario law regarding gender expression. But the professor remains a free man. In fact, he’s arguably the opposite of incarcerated: An extraordinarily wealthy best-selling author who is selling out theatres across the continent. In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, people who criticize the Saudi government don’t become messianic thought leaders. Rather, they actually get jailed. Another Canadian “political prisoner” highlighted by the Al Arabiya report was Denis Rancourt, a tenured University of Ottawa professor who was fired because he didn’t believe in grading. But Rancourt is also free. In fact, just this week he was speaking with the pro-Russian outlet Sputnik News. He told them he thought Canada’s criticisms of Saudi human rights were “disingenuous.”
The streets are strewn with homeless
Most of the entries on this list are thanks to İyad el-Baghdadi, an Oslo-based refugee and commentator on Arab affairs (he also has a podcast). He was the first to catalogue Saudi Arabia’s anti-Canadian attacks in a lengthy Twitter thread, and said that while the campaign might seem “crazy” to Westerners, “it’s also the new normal within the Arab world since the failing of the Arab Spring.” Canadian homelessness has been a frequent target of pro-Saudi Twitter accounts, with most posts using the exact same photograph: An image taken from the website of the Canadian Roger and Tatum Foundation showing a Montrealer carrying a sign reading “Canada Land of the Homeless.” “Saudis demand improved status of homeless children in Canada,” read …read more