Saudi Arabia has reportedly banned one of its most prominent progressive journalists after he called Donald Trump “contradictory.”
Middle East eye reports Jamal Khashoggi, general manager of Al Arab News Channel, has been prohibited from writing in newspapers, appearing on television and even attending conferences.
Shocked to hear that my former colleague Jamal Khashoggi has been banned from writing. His was a reasoned voice. #saudi— Rasheed Abou-Alsamh (@RasheedsWorld) December 5, 2016
The ban was imposed after Khashoggi criticized the U.S. president-elect’s foreign policies pertaining to Middle East, while addressing forum at the Washington Institute on Nov. 10.
“When it comes to the Middle East, Donald Trump’s stances are contradictory, especially regarding Iran,” Khashoggi said, according to BreakingEnergy.com.
In November, Khashoggi was cited in a Washington Post article, according to which he said it was “wishful thinking” to expect reconciliation in the Middle East when Trump is more determined “to ally more closely with Russia.” In the same month, he was also mentioned in a New York Times article:
“Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist, joked that after a meeting with Mr. Obama, someone in Riyadh had asked God for a change in the White House.
‘And God answered his prayer, literally,’ Mr. Khashoggi said.”
In addition to the ban, the Saudi government also released a statement, clarifying Khashoggi’s views did not represent the Gulf kingdom.
“The author Jamal Khashoggi does not represent the government of Saudi Arabia or its positions at any level, and his opinions represent his personal views only and not that of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” a ministry spokesman was quoted by the Saudi Press Agency.
The journalist’s column, which is published every Saturday in Al Hayat newspaper, didn’t appear last weekend.
This isn’t the first time Khashoggi has been penalized for airing his views. In 2010, he resigned from his position as editor of al-Watan, it is believed, after he wrote an opinion piece questioning Salafism, a strict form of Islam integral to the Saudi state.
Saudi Arabia is probably among the worst countries in the world as far as free speech is concerned. However, cases of journalists and bloggers being punished mostly concern criticism of either Sunni Islam or the ruling family.
The fact that Khashoggi allegedly faces censorship because he slammed Trump is a bit odd for two reasons. First, the journalist isn’t wrong when he says Trump’s Middle East policy is contradictory. The fact that he opposes dealings with Iran but admires Russia indeed creates a conundrum because both the countries are allies.
And second, while the Saudi government is chastising Khashoggi for being critical of Trump, the U.S. president-elect, on the other hand, doesn’t think twice before criticizing Saudi Arabia.
Trump has, several times, called out the Saudi government, at one point even saying that Saudi Arabia is nothing without the United States.”
But considering the fact that the real-estate mogul still has personal business interests in Saudi Arabia and is also the incoming American leader, it’s somewhat understandable why Riyadh would want to muzzle someone as prominent as Khashoggi for stating the truth about Trump.