“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, the Saudi people, deserve better.” (Jamal Khashoggi, Sept. 18, 2017, Washington Post)
These words started the process that brought Jamal Khashoggi to his martyrdom.
What would a patriotic writer do?
The only thing a patriot does is to work for his country to make it a better place. An engineer improves his technical knowledge for this. A programmer writes new codes for this. A worker works harder for this. A cleaning worker makes everywhere cleaner.
Well, what does a writer, a thinker do to this end?
He creates new ideas for his country to become more powerful and develop. He supports what he thinks is good, he criticizes what he thinks is wrong. Thus, he would do his duty by guiding the people who rule his country.
This was exactly what Khashoggi was doing.
What does it mean to be a dissident?
Khashoggi was not a dissident of his country, contrary to what some people claim. Saying that Khashoggi was an oppositional figure of his country means that he was working for another country against Saudi Arabia. Khashoggi was not like that.
He loved his country. He loved his people. He was in love with Medina. That is why he wanted to be buried in Medina.
He was struggling so that his country could become more powerful, more peaceful, and a more livable place. This was the main idea of all his writing, speeches, and conferences.
That is why he was emphasizing what is requires to become a powerful and peaceful country.
It requires justice, it requires freedom, it requires a fair distribution of wealth, it requires preventing corruption, it requires ending bribery and it requires governance by capable people: this was what he was saying.
Can one consider him a dissident because of what he said?
Can one marginalize him for saying these things?
Can one be declared a dangerous man for these words?
Khashoggi was marginalized because of his words that every human being would put his/her signature to, and he was forced to leave his country and lived a life of exile which no one had a name for.
What was his blunder?
Angels are stoned in the land of devils
There aren’t many people who love Saudi Arabia as much as he did. There aren’t many who are loyal to the Kingdom as he was. Nevertheless, he incurred the wrath of Crown Prince Salman. Because Salman has every negative quality he criticized. He is a greedy man, he is unjust, he was putting people in prison for no reason, he was torturing them, and he was confiscating their property. He can sacrifice anything in the country for his personal ambitions.
That is why, Crown Prince Salman hated Jamal Khashoggi: just because he was implying these bad qualities. Who in the Saudi media could dare to say to a cruel leader like Salman, “Your Syria policy is wrong”, “Your Yemen policy is wrong”, “Your Israel policy is wrong”, “Your America policy is wrong”? Almost nobody can. Because the system has turned the Saudi Arabian media into a “dynastic media”. Crown Prince Salman appointed members of his family to the head of each media organ.
That is why the ideas Khashoggi was defending and his criticisms were bothering the Saudi regime. “Angels are stoned in the land of the devils.” Khashoggi was stoned because he remained clean like an angel in a media where everyone was turning evil.
Crown Prince told Trump that he was a “fanatic Islamist”. They were doing everything to marginalize, to otherize and to blame Khashoggi. When a cat decides to strangle its own baby, it would say, “It looks like a rat.” Khashoggi could not be strangled as long as he looked like an angel. The whole dynastic media, and Egyptian and Emirati media have carried out smearing campaigns to destroy his image. The ferocious media hitmen finally threatened him on TV. After that, the other hitmen executed him. They destroyed his body as well.
A funeral prayer in absentia will be performed today
Today, a funeral prayer will be performed in absentia for Khashoggi at the Fatih Mosque. His coffin will be empty. There won’t be a body buried in Medina either.
However, we, people who loved him, will be there.
We will be there for this hero who sacrificed his life for justice, for his homeland and for freedom, as people who defend their homelands, freedom, and justice, just like him.
We will say to the whole world that we came here to fight for freedom and justice.
I want to express my special thanks to President of Turkish-Arab media Association Turan Kışlakçı and the Vice President Fatih Öke.
I thank them not only for organizing the funeral prayer but for also persistently defending Khashoggi’s case on the frontline. God bless you.