WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MISSING SAUDI JOURNALIST
October 2nd 2018, the sudden disappearance of veteran Saudi Arabian Journalist Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi gave shockwaves across the world. Khashoggi was one most eminent journalist and political commentator of Saudi Arabia owning an exquisite career of thirty years.
Two weeks later after initial denials, Saudi Arabia government has finally admitted he died inside its consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul, though no clarification is given about disposal of his body.
Born in Medina ,1958 Khashoggi was close to Saudi royal family and also served as an adviser to the government. He was also the first cousin to Dodi Fayed, the rumoured lover of Princess Diana, who together died in an car accident.
Khashoggi started his career as a correspondent for the Saudi Gazette. He is best known for his coverage of events at Afghanistan, Kuwait, Algeria, and Middle -East during 1990. He interviewed Osama bin Laden several times before he become the leader of terroist group”Al -Qaida”.
In 1991 he become the managing director of Al Madina newspaper and his tenure lasted there till 1999. He then was appointed as the deputy in charge of Arab News and served there till 2003. In 2003 he becomes the editor in chief of Al- Watan newspaper though within two months he was fired by Saudi Arabian Ministry of Information because he had allowed a columnist to criticise the Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyyah who is considered as founding father of” Wahhabism”.This incident is significant to portray Khashoggi as liberal to the Western world.
In April 2007, Khashoggi again becomes the editor in chief of Al- Watan for the second time. But after publishing a column by Ibrahim Al Almaee challenging the basic Salafi premises in may 2010 led to his second departure. After this incident, he maintained severe ties with Saudi Arabian elites.
Khashoggi continued his fearless criticism through his writing which eventually led him to leave Saudi in September 2017 and moved to Washington DC, USA where he worked as a columnist in Washington post. In the same month he published an article titled as ”Saudi Arabia wasn’t always this repressive, now it’s unbearable”.In this post, he criticised Saudi’s blockade against Qatar, Saudi’s dispute with Lebanon and the diplomatic dispute with Canada.
Khashoggi even appreciated some of crown prince’s reforms like allowing women to drive but condemned the arrest of Loujain-al-Hathloul who was a women rights activist. He criticised Saudi’s war on Yemen as he writes,”Saudi Arabia’s crown prince must restore dignity to his country by ending Yemen’s cruel war”.In His last column for Washington post, Khashoggi decried lack of press freedom throughout the Arab world saying”Arab government have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate”.
According to The Spectator,”with almost two million Twitter followers he was one of the most famous political pundit of the Arab world and a regular guest on major TV news network in Britain and the United States ”.
On 2nd October, Khashoggi flew to Istanbul and entered the Saudi consulate to obtain documents that would seal his marriage to his turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz. According to Authorities in Istanbul, they believe that he was murdered inside the consulate.
His colleague at the Washington Post, Jason Rezaion wrote that Khashoggi presented to its readers ”insightful commentary and sharp criticism about the seemingly impenetrable country’.Thus, Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi’s disappearance exemplifies that it is a sin to ”search the truth and print it”.
*Aliya Zahera is a Research Intern.