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Jamal Khashoggi
Hany Musallam /

Remembering Jamal Khashoggi’s murder two years on

Today marks two years since Saudi author and journalist, Jamal Khashoggi (raḥimahu Allāhu) was brutally murdered in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul. On 2nd October 2018, Khashoggi walked into the Saudi consulate in order to acquire documentation confirming that he divorced his ex-wife. The 59-year-old was never to be seen again. [1]

In the days following the disappearance of Khashoggi, the story developed almost every day since then, with Turkish media reporting on the 15-man “hit-squad” who arrived and departed Istanbul on the same day, and releasing horrific detail of what occurred to the critic of the Saudi rulers, including torture and dismemberment.

The official response from the Saudi authorities was to meet all accusations with blanket denial and refuse consulate access to Turkish investigators. Consulate access was eventually granted, albeit after areas of the consulate were said to have been repainted, and a deep clean of the site carried out.

Saudi officials, including those at the highest level in government, denied and berated all claims of his murder for the first 17 days after his disappearance, but on the 20th October, finally acknowledged that he had been killed.

Khashoggi, who left Saudi Arabia in 2017, was critical of the Saudi authorities and wrote articles criticising the government. In 2017, he wrote an article for The Washington Post, titled: “Saudi Arabia wasn’t always this repressive. Now it’s unbearable.”

In the article, he states:

“The government banned me from Twitter when I cautioned against an overly enthusiastic embrace of then-President-elect Donald Trump.”

The murder of the journalist prompted worldwide outrage and increased scrutiny of Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) who denies being involved in the killing. In his articles, Khashoggi would express his concern and was critical of the policies of MBS and the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen.

Although the Crown Prince continues to completely deny any involvement in the killing of the journalist, a UN expert has called for the royal to be investigated. In addition, in a report released in June last year, an expert described the killing as a “premeditated extrajudicial execution”.

In early September, a Saudi court overturned five death sentences over the murder of Khashoggi, in a final ruling that jailed eight defendants for between seven and 20 years. UN expert and rights groups universally slammed the verdict given by the Saudi court. [2]

None of the defendants who face imprisonment have been named, which has triggered international outcry. UN expert Agnès Callamard has completely dismissed the court’s ruling, claiming that the top officials who allegedly ordered the murder of Khashoggi have walked free. [3]

Callamard said:

“The Saudi Prosecutor performed one more act today in this parody of justice. But these verdicts carry no legal or moral legitimacy.”

Callamard condemned the fact that “high-level officials who organised and embraced the execution…have walked free”, and that MBS “has remained well protected against any kind of meaningful scrutiny in his country.”

Many questions have arisen over the involvement of MBS in the killing. However, MBS has continuously said he had nothing to do with the murder, but acknowledged that “it happened under my watch.” The Saudi government called the assassination a ‘rouge operation’ after repeatedly denying any involvement whatsoever.

Turkey also slammed the verdict of the Saudi court. Fahrettin Altun, Turkey’s Communications Director, said:

“The final verdict that a Saudi court issued today regarding journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s execution inside the Kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul fell short of meeting the expectations of Turkey and the International community.”

Altun further added:

“We still don’t know what happened to Khashoggi’s body, who wanted him dead or if there were local collaborators, which casts doubt on the credibility of the legal proceedings in KSA. We urge the Saudi authorities to cooperate with the ongoing murder investigations in Turkey.”

The disappearance of Khashoggi came at a time where the Saudi authorities arrested scores of scholars and activists in what was seen as a significant shift in internal policy. The measures have been dubbed by some as a precursor to introducing more secular-leaning laws. [4]

Amongst the dozens of prominent scholars, activists and academics arrested by the Saudi authorities, are Sheikh Salman al-Awda, Sheikh Awad al-Qarni, Sheikh Mohammad Musa al-Sharif, Sheikh Muhammad Saleh al-Munajjid and Sheikh Abdul Aziz at-Tarefe. [5] Prosecutors in Saudi Arabia also sought the death penalty for some prominent scholars including, Shaykh Salman al-Ouda, following an apparent secret trial. [6]

In our Unscripted Podcast on Islam21c in October 2019, Dr Azzam Tamimi discussed why Jamal Khashoggi was killed.

May Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) grant Jamal Khashoggi (raḥimahu Allāhu) and all those who have been killed unjustly Jannat al-Firdaus and may He bring about much greater good for his people in this world and the next.









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