Saudi Arabia’s netizens or electronic army has launched a massive campaign urging fellow Saudi nationals to boycott holidays to Turkey amid escalating pressure on Riyadh from Turkey over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Pro-Riyadh Twitter accounts went into overdrive advocating the boycott of Turkish tourism with the hashtag #BoycottTurkishTourism. The accounts accused Turkish authorities of deceiving the global community over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. Evidence that appears to link the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and Mohammed bin Salman has also provoked regime supporters.
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 dismissed involvement. Senior Turkish officials have kept the pressure on MBS, rejecting Saudi Arabia’s official narrative of the murder and insisting that the order 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.