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Saudi airline stops flights to Canada amid escalating diplomatic row

Saudi airline stops flights to Canada amid escalating diplomatic row

Infographic KSA, a Saudi verified Twitter account that has more than 35,000 followers and another 88,000 on Instagram, tweeted on Monday an image that showed an Air Canada airplane heading toward Toronto's CN Tower. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were citizens of Saudi Arabia, and Saudi royals have always been accused of complicity in the attack.

Since Monday social media has been saturated by the surprising news that Saudi Arabia chose to expel the Canadian ambassador, along with freezing trade and investment ties with Canada.

"We are deeply concerned that Saudi Arabia has expelled Canada's ambassador in response to Canadian statements in defence of human rights activists detained in the kingdom".

Tension began to build on Thursday after Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystina Freeland tweeted she was alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi's sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.

On Monday, the Saudi foreign ministry tweeted: 'The kingdom announces that it is recalling its ambassador to Canada for consultation.

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The kingdom will also suspend educational exchange programs with Canada and move Saudi scholarship recipients to other countries, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya reported Monday.

"We consider the Canadian ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia persona non grata and order him to leave within the next 24 hours", Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry said on Twitter.

Samar's brother, blogger Raif Badawi, was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for "insulting Islam" in a case that sparked an global outcry. "Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this hard time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi".

The row erupted after Canada came out in support of human and women's rights and called on Saudi Arabia to release human rights activists arrested by Riyadh. At jeopardy are the. thousands of Saudi students in Canada'.