The disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, the prominent Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributor, has reverberated among journalists, activists and critics of authoritarianism all over the world.
My first encounter with his writings was in 2011, year one of the Arab Spring, in Al-Hayat, the Saudi newspaper that we both wrote for. In his columns, he called for seizing the moment and pushed for reforms within Saudi Arabia. For his courageous views, he was banned from writing and tweeting for more than a year. After declaring allegiance to the new crown prince in his first tweet after a year of silence, he was banned again for good in September 2017 for tweets deemed empathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood, and for questioning the arrests of some of the prominent Saudi clerics, and others, that were carried out that same month. Things then escalated and resulted in Khashoggi’s departure from Saudi Arabia for fear of arrest and imprisonment.
I don’t know if it was fate or coincidence that we were both given the opportunity to voice our views in the same newspaper again, this time the Washington Post. Finally, we could write uncensored. The power of self-imposed exile is that you can finally write openly without fear of prosecution. Little did we know that safety was still not guaranteed, that it could lead to a disappearance. [Continue reading…]