Saudis’ extraordinary attack on Australia
Saudi Arabia has launched an extraordinary attack on Australia, deeming our government "racist" for "sympathising" with the Christchurch mosque killer.
Abdulaziz Alwasil, Riyadh's ambassador to the United Nations, accused the Government of supporting anti-Islamic terrorists.
He said minorities, migrants and Muslims faced "horrific violations of human rights" and "racist and extremist policies".
"Unfortunately, these have become popular and even accepted by some Western parliaments, they are even sponsored by certain governments," Mr Alwasil said.
"We see in some countries radicalism against Muslims, we see xenophobia, racism. And some governments sympathise with them, like Australia. Here we refer to the massacre perpetrated by Brenton Tarrant - an Australian - which was based on hate speech."
He condemned a speech by Australia's ambassador to the UN, Sally Mansfield, decrying the kingdom's human rights record as ill-informed.
"We have listened with great surprise to the statement of Australia on behalf of a group of states. In it, there are many mistakes and misleading information against my country. The kingdom continues its reform policies in accordance with its values and Islamic teachings, especially with regards to the rights of women."
Australia led a coalition of countries condemning the Saudis over a series of human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention, torture and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Ms Mansfield, delivered a statement on behalf of 24 nations expressing her "deep concern" at the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia.
"Civil society actors in Saudi Arabia still face persecution and intimidation. Human rights defenders, women's rights activists, journalists and dissidents remain in detention or under threat," she said.
"We are concerned at reports of torture, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, unfair trials and harassment of individuals engaged in promoting and defending human rights, their families and colleagues."
Mr Alwasil said Ms Mansfield's speech was "misleading".
Edwina MacDonald, legal director at the Human Rights Law Centre, said: "We applaud the Australian government for taking a principled stand and speaking up about extremely concerning human rights violations that another member of the council has been committing with impunity."
Australia sells weapons to Saudi Arabia and is part of a new US-led mission in the Strait of Hormuz aimed at curbing Iran's actions there.
A UN report released earlier this month warned that countries that arm the Saudi military, including Australia, could be guilty of war crimes.