Saudi Arabia Crucifies Murderer While Human Rights Spat With Canada Escalates

The execution comes at a time when a row over Saudi Arabia's human rights record escalates between Canada and Saudi Arabia

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General view of the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, September 9, 2016.
General view of the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, September 9, 2016.Credit: Ahmed Jadallah, Reuters

The diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and Canada over human rights violations hit a new high Wednesday as the Saudis began sellling off Canadian assets and the kingdom crucified a man in the city of Mecca on charges of murder and theft.

The spat started when the Canadian Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland tweeted her concern for the arrest of Saudi women's rights activist Samar Badawi, and Nassima al-Sadah. Badawi's brother, Raif Badawi was sentenced in 2014 to 100 lashes and 10 years in prison for political activism. His wife and children fled to Canada after his arrest, and were granted Canadian citizenships on July 1 2018.

The row quickly escalated, and the Canadian ambassador was given 24 hours to leave the country and all assets and trade between the two countries was frozen. Saudi students were recalled from Canada, and all Saudi medical patients in Canada are to be transferred back to the Kingdom.

Bahrain and Egypt have come out on the side of the Saudis, while the U.S. and the U.K. have both urged the two countries to act with caution and restraint. Russia also voiced support for Saudi Arabia in its worsening row with Canada on Wednesday, telling Ottawa it was unacceptable to lecture the kingdom on human rights.

In the meantime, Saudi Arabia crucified Elias Abulkalaam Jamaleddeen, from Myanmar, on account of breaking into a woman's home, shooting inside the house, and stabbing her multiple times and killing her, attempting to steal other weapons from a different house, another attempted stabbing and attempted rape, Bloomberg reported.

Capital punishment is commonplace in Saudi Arabia, but crucifixion, which entails hanging an executed person's body on a cross for the public to see, is not. Other reasons that have previously warranted crucifixion include homosexuality and political activism.

Saudi Arabia's has a track record of human rights violations. The absolute monarchy has a total ban on political activism, and deals harshly with dissidents.

Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is trying to push a progressive image of the kingdom, and allowed women to drive this year, becoming the last country in the world to do so. Many of the women and men who campaigned for women's right to drive have been arrested since May. Activists arrested included Eman al-Nafjan, Loujain al-Hathloul, Aziza al-Yousef, Aisha al-Manea, Ibrahim Modeimigh and Mohammed al-Rabea.

Women in Saudi Arabia still lack most basic human rights. All women must have a guardian, who makes key decisions for them – they must have their consent to apply for a passport, travel abroad, get married, or even to leave prison, says Human Rights Watch.

Saudi's intervention in Yemen's civil war has also caused human rights violations. The Saudis have imposed a naval and air blockade on the country in hope of pressuring Houthi rebels into submission, but has turned the a food-insecure country into one on the brink of famine.

The Saudi offensive on the port city of Hodeidah has worsened the situation. Hodeidah is the entry point for around 70% of Yemen's goods – especially food and humanitarian goods.

Reuters reported that since the Hodeidah offensive, the country is close to famine. Four out of ten Yemenite children are now acutely malnourished. Around 8.4 million people are now close to starvation.

The conflict has so far killed over 10,000 people.

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