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Affront to humanity

Dear sir:

I have been somewhat perturbed by the reaction of the media in reference to the recent diplomatic dispute between Canada and Saudi Arabia.

I am not referring to the Fort Frances Times. But throughout the news industry, in TV, radio, newspapers, and the internet, the reaction appears to be the same.

In some tweets by Chrystia Freeland, the minister of Foreign Affairs Canada spoke out about the oppression of women in Saudi Arabia and called for the release of some campaigners for women's rights who had been arrested and threatened with death.

Saudi Arabia responded with outrage and imposed economic sanctions on Canada.

The media reaction generally has been the same. The focus has been on the economic impacts on Canada. The Saudis cancelled contracts to buy wheat, Saudi students in Canadian universities were told to go home, that sort of thing.

The commentary generally has been the same whether the reporters are male or female.

I'm sure we like to sell wheat and others things, and the universities will miss the tuition of the Saudi students, but focusing on lost sales is missing the point. We need to understand the kind of people we have offended.

In the same week, Saudi Arabia publicly executed a man. How you might ask? By crucifixion. Really, in the 21st century? They cut off his head and displayed his body on a rack.

In the same week, Saudi Arabia also blew up a school bus in Yemen, killing 40 children. This was no accident in the fog of war. This was a precision-guided bomb that manoeuvres to hit a selected target. In the aftermath of the attack, Saudi Arabia responded to international protests by declaring the school bus a “legitimate military target.”

It is not a surprise that such people abuse women and deny them the rights of citizenship. It is not a surprise that a woman is considered less of a human being than a man. We have a word for such people. We call them barbarians.

Rather than condemn our government for lost sales, we should applaud it for standing up for women's rights. I am not an especially big fan of Justin Trudeau but I am proud of my government for condemning the mistreatment of women.

Women are human beings, not property. And we should support those who are willing to say so. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

We often have heard the word “spat” used to describe this affair. Spat implies an insignificant or trivial disagreement. I don't think the rights of women are a trivial issue.

We also have heard repeatedly that Canada's comments were “ill-advised.” We hear that we should not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. Following that advice, however, often has led to crimes against humanity that we condemn too late.

Saudi Arabia is an affront to humanity.

Yours truly,

Rudolf K. F. Zeitlhofer

Fort Frances, Ont.

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