On August 6, 2018, the Saudi-based Twitter account Infographic_ksa tweeted a image of an Air Canada aircraft that appeared to be heading towards the CN Tower in Toronto – in an apparent hint at the September 11, 2001 attacks – accompanied by the text in English: “Sticking one’s nose where it doesn’t belong! As the Arabic saying goes: ‘He who interferes with what doesn’t concern him finds what doesn’t please him.'” The tweet was harshly criticized and the account tweeted an apology; nevertheless, the Saudi authorities ordered the account to shut down.
The tweet came against the backdrop of the past week’s unprecedented rise in tension between Saudi Arabia and Canada. This follows Canadian diplomats’ criticism of the continued arrests of social and human rights activists in Saudi Arabia, among them Samar Badawi, 2012 recipient of the U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award and sister of social activist and blogger Ra’if Badawi, who was arrested in 2012 and has been detained ever since. It should be noted that Rai’f Badawi’s wife Ensaf Haidar and their three children received Canadian citizenship in July 2018. The arrests were criticized by Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, as well as by Canadian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dennis Horak, who called for the immediate release of all those detained.
In response, the Saudi Foreign Ministry declared Ambassador Horak persona non grata and ordered him to leave the country within 24 hours. It also announced the “freezing of all new trade and investment transactions between the KSA and Canada” and that “the KSA reserves its right to take further action.” A Saudi Foreign Ministry announcement stated: “Saudi Arabia will never allow any country to interfere in its internal affairs, and will not comply with any country’s dictates.” It added that it “sees the Canadian position as an attack on it that requires a firm response that will deter others from harming its sovereignty.”
The following report examines the controversial tweet, the background to it, and the unfolding of events that followed it.
As stated, on August 6, 2018, @Infographic_ksa tweeted a veiled threat of a 9/11-style terror attack against Canada. Across an image of an Air Canada aircraft apparently headed towards Toronto’s CN Tower, it stated in English: “Sticking one’s nose where it doesn’t belong! As the Arabic saying goes: He who interferes with what doesn’t concern him finds what doesn’t please him.”
The @Infographic_ksa tweet. (Source: Twitter.com/@infographic_ksa, August 6, 2018)