Tarek Fatah: The Toronto Sun
Most Canadians were taken aback by the hostile reaction of Saudi Arabia towards Canada after Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland issued statements late last week calling on Riyadh to release imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, whose wife, Ensaf Haider, and three children are Canadian citizens.
In a courageous move, Freeland posted her concerns on social media as well. She tweeted on August 2: “Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi’s sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this difficult time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi.”
To make Canada’s support for the Badawi family known to ordinary Saudis and the Arab world in general, on Sunday our embassy in Riyadh tweeted a similar message in Arabic.
Most observers believe this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. However, having lived for 10 years among the Saudis, I knew there was more to the Saudi furious reaction than what meets the eye.
It is more likely the Saudi Crown Prince and his underlings just could not digest the fact that a petite woman was haranguing them publicly and speaking to them as an equal, not as one bending-over-backwards, showing subservience to their head of state.
After all, no woman in Saudi Arabia can even step outside for an errand unless she has the permission of a male member of her family. And here was Freeland standing up to the pampered bullies of the world — the Saudis. These are people who have not just terrorized their own dissidents, but erased Islam as a religion from the Muslim consciousness and replaced it with Islamism — a supremacist political ideology.
As early as December 2010, a Reuters report citing a leaked note from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reported Saudi Arabia is the “biggest funder of terrorists”. In a secret memorandum Clinton wrote, that Saudi donors still “constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide” and that “it has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority”.
Much has changed since those days, but no matter who runs the liquor store, it’s the same plonk wine sold in a new bottle.
Additionally, all Saudi students have been ordered to leave Canada immediately.
Good riddance, I say. We were selling our souls to those who have nothing but contempt for us.
Back in 2003, The Globe & Mail reported on how countries such as Saudi Arabia actually buy medical residency spots at Canadian hospitals for their students to come here and train knowing they have no intention of staying here.
Slobodan Lemez, a family doctor from Sarajevo, Bosnia, who moved to Toronto in 1993, called the practice “completely unfair”.
“Why give these training positions to doctors who will not even practice in Canada?” he told The Globe in exasperation. “I am here, paying taxes, part of this society and community. This is my country: shouldn’t I be given first priority? I am not asking for special treatment, just a chance to retrain and practise here.”
One last request to the departing Saudis: Could you also take back all the Saudi-trained Islamic clerics you’ve planted in most mosques of Canada?