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7 Jan, 2016 21:06

Protesters in Canada oppose $10.5bn deal with Saudi Arabia

Protesters in Canada oppose $10.5bn deal with Saudi Arabia

Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets of the Canadian capital demanding that the government cancel a multibillion arms deal with Saudi Arabia in the wake of the execution of 47 prisoners, including a Shia religious leader.

Up to 500 people gathered at the Saudi embassy in Ottawa, Ontario, on Wednesday, outraged by the execution of 47 prisoners convicted on terrorism charges, including influential Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. The protesters were calling on Canadian Prime minister Justin Trudeau to cancel the CAD$15 billion ($10.5bn) arms deal with Saudi Arabia and thus demonstrate discontent with the clamant human rights abuses, even though the move would harm Canada’s economic interests.  

“We’re here today to ask the government to rethink its policy when it comes to Saudi Arabia. The hypocrisy has to stop,” said Toronto Imam Asad Jafri, according the Ottawa Citizen.

“They killed our leader, our scholar al-Nimr, for no reason, and our government is quiet? The deal speaks more loudly than their words. It’s a shame, it’s upsetting, especially when Trudeau’s platform was all about change,” he added.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, however, shrugged off the idea of reconsidering the contract in an interview to CBC News on Tuesday.

“What is done is done and the contract is not something that we'll revisit,” Dion said.

“The whole world should get together in order to stop these families from continuing their crimes,” another protester told RT’s Ruptly video agency.

“I’m angry about the executions and the way Saudi Arabians dealt with these people. I condemn the actions of Saudi Arabia,” still other protester said.

The peaceful demonstration cruised around the Saudi and US embassies as well as the Peace Tower. The protesters carried portraits of Nimr al-Nimr accompanied with some of his sayings and placards bearing messages denouncing Saudi Arabia.

The arms deal was signed under the previous government in the fiscal year 2013-2014 to supply Saudi Arabia with light-armored military vehicles and is regarded as the largest contract Canada has ever entered into.

Protesters arrived from areas as far away as Montreal and Toronto in order to express their outrage at the execution, which took place January 2nd.

Nimr, a leader of the Middle Eastern country's minority Shia community, had called for peaceful protests against the Saudi regime. He was arrested on terrorism charges and executed on or shortly before January 2 along with 46 others condemned prisoners, sparking massive protests across the Shia world.