Saudi Twitter trolls urge boycott of Turkey holidays

Saudi Twitter trolls urge boycott of Turkey holidays, as Khashoggi pressure mounts
2 min read
19 November, 2018
Saudi Arabia's electronic army has launched a campaign calling on Saudis to boycott tourism to Turkey amid mounting pressure from Ankara over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Last month, Twitter identified and suspended a network of pro-Saudi bots [Getty]

Saudi Arabia's electronic army has launched a campaign calling on Saudis to boycott holidays to Turkey amid mounting pressure on Riyadh from Ankara over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Pro-Riyadh Twitter accounts - known in the region as the "electronic flies" - went into overdrive on Sunday promoting the boycott of Turkish tourism with an Arabic-language hashtag #BoycottTurkishTourism.

The accounts accused Turkish authorities of misleading the world on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

Evidence that appears to link the murder of Khashoggi and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has also angered regime loyalists.

The boycott campaign avoids direct mention of this and instead focuses on the more than century-old Ottoman occupation of parts of modern-day Saudi Arabia and the Turkish dynasty's "historical crimes committed against Arabs".

The hashtag has garnered over 50,000 mentions on Twitter.

Riyadh is important to Turkey's tourism sector with around 650,000 high-spending Saudi tourists visiting Turkey last year.

At the beginning of the Khashoggi crisis, Saudi media claimed some of the 15-man team sent to Istanbul for the mission were Saudi tourists visiting to undergo hair transplants.

The move comes amid a steady stream of leaks from Turkish authorities on the gory details of Khashoggi's killing even as Saudi Arabia denied involvement.

Senior Turkish officials have kept the pressure on Prince Mohammed, rejecting Saudi Arabia's official narrative of the murder and insisting that the order for the operation came from the "highest levels of government".

Khashoggi, who was critical of the crown prince, was killed last month after going to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve documents necessary to marry his Turkish fiancee.

Last month, Twitter identified and suspended a network of bots that were promoting Saudi narratives about the killing of Khashoggi.