This is not about Canada
It must be clear that Canada is not the one in need of support from the international community. It is the Saudi feminists and activists who have made this call for solidarity who need this support.
The effects of Saudi authorities’ actions towards Canada are minimal. The same cannot be said of Saudi civil society.
The reason why this call was made in the first place is because it was becoming clear that Saudi authorities were suffocating all breathing room for activists.
When this is referred to as a “diplomatic fallout” that must be resolved between “two sides”, Saudi civil society —and its demands—are erased from the narrative. This is not an infringement on but a support of national sovereignty of a people over the whims of one man.
Neutrality, here, is nothing more than an expression of indifference towards state repression when committed by an ally. It does nothing but embolden the Crown Prince to further escalate his all-out war against civil society.
The Crown Prince is creating a dystopian reality where dozens of opinion writers have to become overnight experts on his arbitrary enemy of the week. Remaining silent and not expressing support for each and every decision he makes could land a public figure in jail.
Saudi newspapers have finally come to care about human rights violations, but only in Canada, e.g. Human Rights Watch reports about discrimination First Nations women experience. Needless to say, the same attention is never given to reports on systemic discrimination that Saudi women face.
Never will you find in Saudi media any mention of HRW ‘Boxed In’ report—among many other reports about Saudi Arabia’s plethora of human rights violations—, an extensive report about sexist discrimination in the country, the jailed activists were working to abolish.
This is the reality that we and our communities are dealing with at the moment. This is why we have made a call for international solidarity. People continue to live in fear, of state repression, and of where Mohammad bin Salman’s rash, self-destructive decisions will take our country.
This is not a time to back down. We must maintain our solidarity with Saudi activists and feminists, and continue to condemn the state’s ongoing campaign to crush civil society.
This is not about backing Canada, it is about supporting Saudi communities working towards a better future.