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Opinion Read Jamal Khashoggi’s columns for The Washington Post

Opinion | Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist, criticized his home country. Then he was reportedly killed. (Video: Adriana Usero, Jon Gerberg/The Washington Post)

Jamal Khashoggi, a veteran Saudi journalist, was killed in Istanbul after walking into the consulate of Saudi Arabia, according to Turkish officials. In a statement released Saturday, Fred Hiatt, The Post’s editorial page editor, said that if true, this would represent “a monstrous and unfathomable act.”

Khashoggi had been writing a column for The Post’s Global Opinions section since last year. “He lamented that Saudi Arabia’s repression was becoming unbearable to the point of his decision to leave the country and live in exile in Washington,” wrote Karen Attiah, Khashoggi’s editor, on Wednesday.

Hiatt, in his statement, called Khashoggi a “committed, courageous journalist.”

“He writes out of a sense of love for his country and deep faith in human dignity and freedom,” Hiatt said. “We have been enormously proud to publish his writing.”

Read excerpts from some of Khashoggi’s columns below.

Saudi Arabia wasn’t always this repressive. Now it’s unbearable. – Sept. 18, 2017

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?
With young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s rise to power, he promised an embrace of social and economic reform. He spoke of making our country more open and tolerant and promised that he would address the things that hold back our progress, such as the ban on women driving.
But all I see now is the recent wave of arrests. Last week, about 30 people were reportedly rounded up by authorities, ahead of the crown prince’s ascension to the throne. Some of the arrested are good friends of mine, and the effort represents the public shaming of intellectuals and religious leaders who dare to express opinions contrary to those of my country’s leadership. …
It was painful for me several years ago when several friends were arrested. I said nothing. I didn’t want to lose my job or my freedom. I worried about my family.
I have made a different choice now. I have left my home, my family and my job, and I am raising my voice. To do otherwise would betray those who languish in prison. I can speak when so many cannot. I want you to know that Saudi Arabia has not always been as it is now. We Saudis deserve better. [Read more] [Read in Arabic]

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince wants to ‘crush extremists.’ But he’s punishing the wrong people. – Oct. 31, 2017

Prince Mohammed is right to go after extremists. But he is going after the wrong people. Dozens of Saudi intellectuals, clerics, journalists, and social media stars have been arrested in the past 2 months — the majority of whom, at worst, are mildly critical of the government.  Meanwhile, many members of the Council of Senior Scholars (“Ulema”) have extremist ideas. Sheikh Saleh Al-Fawzan, who is highly regarded by Prince Mohamed, has said on Saudi TV that Shiites are not Muslims. Sheikh Saleh Al-Lohaidan, also highly regarded, has given legal advice that the Muslim ruler is not bound to consult others. Their reactionary opinions about democracy, pluralism or even women driving, are protected by royal decree from counter argument or criticism.
How can we become more moderate when such extremist views are tolerated? How can we progress as a nation when those offering constructive feedback and (often humorous) dissent are banished? [Read more]

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is acting like Putin – Nov. 5, 2017

Corruption in Saudi Arabia is quite different from  corruption in most other countries, as it is not limited to a “bribe” in return for a contract, or expensive gift for the family member of a government official or prince, or use of a private jet that is charged to the government so a family can go on vacation.
Instead, in Saudi Arabia, senior officials and princes become billionaires as contracts are either enormously inflated or, at worst, a complete mirage. In 2004, Lawrence Wright wrote in the New Yorker about “The Kingdom of Silence” where a massive sewer project in Jeddah was really a series of manhole covers across the city with no actual pipes underneath. I, as the editor of a major paper at the time, can say that we all knew, and we never reported on it. [Read more]

Saudi Arabia is creating a total mess in Lebanon – Nov. 13, 2017

Today, Saudi Arabia alone is the most politically stable and economically secure country in the region. Neither the kingdom nor our conflict-ridden region can afford to see my country lose its footing. MBS’s rash actions are deepening tensions and undermining the security of the Gulf states and the region as a whole. [Read more]

With Ali Abdullah Saleh’s death, Saudi Arabia is paying the price for betraying the Arab Spring – Dec. 5, 2017

The choice of waging even more war is tempting for those in Riyadh who want an overwhelming defeat for the Houthis and to get them out of the political game, but it will be very costly — not only for the kingdom but for the Yemeni people who are already suffering immensely. This conflict is the horrific result of  preventing the people of Yemen from achieving their desire for freedom. Now the Houthi has become a significant force, and they do not hold the values ​​of the Arab Spring based on power sharing. The world is watching Yemen; not only should the Saudis  stop the war, but there should be pressure for the Iranians to stop their support for the Houthis; both sides must accept a Yemeni formula to share power. Perhaps the fall of Saleh the tyrant is a chance for peace in Yemen. [Read more]

Why Saudi Arabia’s crown prince should be worried about Iran’s protests – Jan. 3, 2018

It is still too early to judge how the events in Iran will unfold. If the hard-liners succeed in suppressing the protests, they will continue their expansionist policy, which could mean an escalation of the confrontation with Saudi Arabia. If the regime or [Hassan] Rouhani’s government falls, the chants heard in a number of Iranian cities — “Neither Gaza nor Lebanon, my life will only be sacrificed for Iran” — could become the country’s foreign policy. [Read more] [Read in Arabic]

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince already controlled the nation’s media. Now he’s squeezing it even further. – Feb. 7, 2018

When many of Saudi Arabia’s media tycoons ended up in Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton along with more than 300 royals, senior officials and wealthy businessmen accused of corruption, many people assumed that the kingdom’s strongman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aims to control the media, too.
This is far from true, simply because he already does. [Read more]

What Saudi Arabia’s crown prince can learn from Queen Elizabeth II – Feb. 28, 2018 (co-bylined with Robert Lacey)

MBS’s downsizing and relative humbling of the House of Saud is welcome news. But maybe he should learn from the British royal house that has earned true stature, respect and success by trying a little humility himself. If MBS can listen to his critics and acknowledge that they, too, love their country, he can actually enhance his power. [Read more] [Read in Arabic]

Why Saudi Arabia’s crown prince should visit Detroit – March 20, 2018 (co-bylined with Robert Lacey)

Many inner cities in Saudi Arabia fester today as Detroit once did — they are miserable Third World slums that completely mock the oil riches of the kingdom. So, before MBS ventures into building new cities, perhaps he should deal with the old ones. During his visit to Egypt, which kicked off his current global tour, the crown prince revealed his shared dream with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi of building a prosperous region in northern Saudi Arabia stretching across the Gulf of Aqaba to Egypt — a “Riviera of the Red Sea” to attract millions of tourists yearly. Yet since neither Saudi Arabia nor Egypt has a free press, no one asked the two leaders about Egypt’s numerous tourist destinations, such as Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada and El Gouna. All have gorgeous beaches on the very same coast and a chronic lack of tourists; they are sad shadows of the resorts they used to be. Surely that problem should be addressed before splashing out precious government funds on still more cities in the sand. [Read more] [Read in Arabic]

By blaming 1979 for Saudi Arabia’s problems, the crown prince is peddling revisionist history – April 3, 2018

In Saudi Arabia at the moment, people simply don’t dare to speak. The country has seen the blacklisting of those who dare raise their voices, the imprisonment of moderately critical intellectuals and religious figures, and the alleged anti-corruption crackdown on royals and other business leaders. Liberals whose work was once censored or banned by Wahhabi hard-liners have turned the tables: They now ban what they see as hard-line, such as the censorship of various books at the Riyadh International Book Fair last month. One may applaud such an about-face. But shouldn’t we aspire to allow the marketplace of ideas to be open?
I agree with MBS that the nation should return to its pre-1979 climate, when the government restricted hard-line Wahhabi traditions. Women today should have the same rights as men. And all citizens should have the right to speak their minds without fear of imprisonment. But replacing old tactics of intolerance with new ways of repression is not the answer. [Read more] [Read in Arabic]

What Saudi Arabia can learn from ‘Black Panther’ — April 17, 2018

This Wednesday, Disney’s blockbuster “Black Panther” will be shown in theaters in Saudi Arabia, officially ending a decades-long ban on movie theaters in the country. This may seem odd to Americans who have grown up with cinema and popcorn, but to many Saudis it’s a huge step toward normalization. For too long, hard-line religious figures have preached that cinema would bring about the collapse of all moral values. When the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman decided to end the ban, he also effectively stopped the preachers from repeating such foolishness. By taking the lead to remove the ban, he proved that the government has the final say when it comes to deciding what’s permissible or not, and that some things should be left up to the personal choice of citizens, not the clergy. …
At the end of the film, the young king of Wakanda chooses to use his country’s power to engage with the world for the greater good. Will Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who likely will soon become king of his country, use his power to bring peace to the world around him? [Read more] [Read in Arabic]


Saudi Arabia’s reformers now face a terrible choice – May 21, 2018

It is appalling to see 60- and 70-year-old icons of reform being  branded as “traitors” on the front pages of Saudi newspapers.
Women and men who championed many of the same social freedoms — including women driving — that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is now advancing were arrested in Saudi Arabia last week.  The crackdown has shocked even the government’s most stalwart defenders.
The arrests illuminate the predicament confronting all Saudis. We are being asked to abandon any hope of political freedom, and to keep quiet about arrests and travel bans that impact not only the critics but also their families. We are expected to vigorously applaud social reforms and heap praise on the crown prince while avoiding any reference to the pioneering Saudis who dared to address these issues decades ago. …
The message is clear to all: Activism of any sort has to be within the government, and no independent voice or counter-opinion will be allowed. Everyone must stick to the party line.
Is there no other way for us?  Must we choose between movie theaters and our rights as citizens to speak out, whether in support of or critical of our government’s actions?  Do we only voice glowing references to our leader’s decisions, his vision of our future, in exchange for the right to live and travel freely — for ourselves and our wives, husbands and children too? I have been told that I need to accept, with gratitude, the social reforms that I have long called for while keeping silent on other matters — ranging from the Yemen quagmire, hastily executed economic reforms, the blockade of Qatar, discussions about an alliance with Israel to counter Iran, and last year’s imprisonment of dozens of Saudi intellectuals and clerics.
This is the choice I’ve woken up to each morning ever since last June, when I left Saudi Arabia for the last time after being silenced by the government for six months. [Read more] [Read in Arabic]

Saudi Arabia’s women can finally drive. But the crown prince needs to do much more. – June 25, 2018

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman deserves consider credit for bringing the matter to a close the right way. While previous leaders were reluctant to take up the issue, he faced it head-on and did the right thing for Saudi Arabia. At the same time, I hope he will not forget the brave actions of each and every Saudi who individually worked hard for freedom and modernization. He should order the release of Hathloul, Aziza al-Yousef, Eman al-Nafjan and the other brave women who campaigned for women’s right to drive. They should be allowed to finally witness the results of their tears and toil. [Read more]

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince must restore dignity to his country — by ending Yemen’s cruel war – Sept. 11, 2018

The longer this cruel war lasts in Yemen, the more permanent the damage will be. The people of Yemen will be busy fighting poverty, cholera and water scarcity and rebuilding their country. The crown prince must bring an end to the violence and restore the dignity of the birthplace of Islam. [Read more] [Read in Arabic]

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