New Delhi: Amid a diplomatic spat between Saudi Arabia and Canada, a pro-government verified Saudi Twitter account shared a digitally altered image, which showed a plane flying toward the skyline of Toronto, Canada’s largest city. The tweet was deleted later.
Now deleted, here a screenshot of the threatening Saudi "infographic" featuring an airliner headed for the Toronto skyline. pic.twitter.com/LrkCLxxjFk
— Tobias Schneider (@tobiaschneider) August 6, 2018
The image, shared by the account @infographic_ksa, was uploaded with a message in English that read, “He who interferes with what doesn’t concern him finds what doesn’t please him.” The text “sticking one’s nose where it doesn’t belong!” was also superimposed over the image. Screenshots of the tweet were already viral before the image got deleted.
The image reminded many social media users of the Septemper 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in USA in which planes were deliberately flown into the World Trade Center towers in New York. A total of 2,977 people were killed. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were citizens of Saudi Arabia, and Saudi royals have long been accused of complicity in the attack, as mentioned in report by The Washington Post.
Later on Monday, the same account reshared the image with the plane removed and wrote that the image had not been intended to refer to 9/11 and apologised for its “inappropriate” tweet and instead showed a plane carrying the Canadian ambassador home. But the damage was already done.
The Twitter account itself was deleted later in the afternooon, apparently on the orders of the Saudi government. Representatives of the Saudi Embassy in Washington said they had been shocked by the tweet and that the Ministry of Culture would be investigating.
— سعود كابلي (@saudkabli) August 6, 2018
The @infographic_ksa account had more than 350,000 followers on Twitter and an additional 88,000 on Instagram. A website affiliated with the social media accounts describes it as a “voluntary non-profit project” that is “managed by a group of Saudi youth.”
Based on a complaint filed to the ministery of Media about a post by @Infographic_ksa, the ministry has ordered the owner of the account to shut it down until investigations are completed, according to electronic broadcasting laws in KSA. pic.twitter.com/jD2maoOyEV
— وزارة الإعلام (@media_ksa) August 6, 2018
The accounts, which are followed by a number of Saudi diplomatic figures, are verified and largely share government announcements and pro-Riyadh messages. The Twitter account has been described as “an official government” account in Saudi-owned state media, although the relationship to the Saudi state is not clear.
Saudi Arabia had ordered the expulsion of the Canadian envoy, as well as the halt to all new trade and investment deals between the two nations, after Canada said it was “gravely concerned” about recent arrests of activists in Saudi Arabia.