Saudi Arabia Orders 16,000 Students To Leave Canada Amid Escalating Clash

By Jason Lemon

Saudi Arabia has canceled the scholarships of 16,000 of its students studying in Canada, also ordering them to leave the country and find academic programs elsewhere.

The move comes amid a growing diplomatic row between the kingdom and the North American country, following comments by Canada’s foreign ministry that criticized Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and called on Riyadh to release detained activists. Responding to the criticism, Saudi Arabia also cut diplomatic ties with Canada, frozen all new trade and investment and canceled flights via its national carrier to Toronto.

Now, thousands of Saudi students who were studying in Canada through scholarship, training, and fellowship programs have seen their funding canceled, Saudi Gazette reported. While the kingdom will continue to pay for these students’ academic programs, they will be forced to find new opportunities in other countries. Government sources told the Saudi newspaper this would most likely be in the U.S.

Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi national who has been a political refugee in Canada since 2014, toldNewsweek he was contacted by Saudi authorities, who threatened to arrest his brothers and friends back in the kingdom if he continued to comment on the diplomatic row.

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