Missing journalist’s ‘last column’ warns of Arab regimes silencing media

In his ‘last column’ for the Washington Post published on Oct 18, the missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, above, expressed concern over Arab governments that increasingly continue to silence the media.

These governments block even internet access to some information they do not want citizens to see. The Arab world is facing its own version of an Iron Curtain imposed through domestic forces vying for power, he wrote.

In the op-ed piece titled ‘Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression’, the journalist recounted cases of how a top writer was jailed for speaking against the Saudi establishment and a newspaper was seized by the Egyptian government.

Such actions gagging media no longer face a backlash from the international community which remains largely silent after an initial condemnation.

Citizens living under Middle East regimes should be able to read about democracy. There is need for a platform for Arab voices to be heard as people suffer from poverty, mismanagement and poor education.

Ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face through an independent international forum, Khashoggi wrote.

The Post initially delayed publishing the column amid hope for Khashoggi’s return, the paper’s Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah said in a note at the top of the essay.

“Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post,” she wrote.

Khashoggi walked into a Saudi consulate building in Istanbul on Oct 2 and he never came out. Turkish media reports based on sources conducting the investigations say he was murdered and dismembered inside the consulate by an “assassination squad” from Saudi Arabia who arrived and left Istanbul on Oct 2 after completing their mission.

Attiah said the column was a perfect example of Khashoggi’s commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world.

The Post received the essay from Khashoggi’s translator and assistant on Oct 3, one day after he was reported missing.

Khashoggi began writing for The Post‘s opinion section in September last year. He was a harsh critic of the assertive Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s so-called reforms.