Over the past year, Saudi authorities — led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — have claimed to be undertaking a process of reform in the kingdom that will finally bring it into modernity, they say.
Troubling developments from the community of activists inside the country, however, tell a vastly different story. Those pushing for change — whether they are women’s rights activists, journalists or ethnic minorities — report being systematically harassed by the authorities.
With every supposed reform comes a wave of fresh arrests, prison sentences and increasingly repressive behavior. At each turning point, though, Jamal has offered readers of The Post insightful commentary and sharp criticism about the seemingly impenetrable country.
He began writing for us last year and has since become one of the most consistent contributors to our Global Opinions section. In recent months, we’ve translated his pieces into Arabic to reach his massive audience on social media.
“When I speak of the fear, intimidation, arrests and public shaming of intellectuals and religious leaders who dare to speak their minds, and then I tell you that I’m from Saudi Arabia, are you surprised?” Jamal wrote in his first piece for us.
But despite his criticisms of his homeland, Jamal consistently expressed his love for it and his desire to return, always reiterating his belief that Saudi Arabia could and would do better.
When the crown prince visited The Post’s editorial board in March, Jamal wasn’t present, but I was. MBS was working hard to sell us on his proposed reforms. Detaining a well-known journalist and commentator, in a foreign country and without cause, would be another reminder of the hypocrisy and emptiness of the promise to open Saudi society.
Activists, Middle East experts and journalists have been swift to raise the alarm about Jamal’s possible detention: