Washington Post publishes Jamal Khashoggi’s last column — about free expression in the Arab world

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi went missing on October 2 after entering consulate in Istanbul/COURTESY

The Washington Post has published what it described as the final column submitted by Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi before his disappearance and presumed death.

The 59-year-old was last seen entering the diplomatic mission in Istanbul on October 2.

In the column, Khashoggi wrote about the urgent need for freedom of expression in Arab countries, whose citizens he said were being held slave to state-perpetrated narratives.

“There is only one country in the Arab world that has been classified as ‘free.’ That nation is Tunisia. Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait come second, with a classification of “partly free.” The rest of the countries in the Arab world are classified as ‘not free’.”

Khashoggi wrote that most Arab countries were silencing, threatening and controlling journalists with impunity, and lamented that the so-called Arab Spring of 2011 didn’t usher Arab society to a freer and more progressive place for journalists.

“As a result, Arabs living in these countries are either uninformed or misinformed,” he wrote.

“They are unable to adequately address, much less publicly discuss, matters that affect the region and their day-to-day lives. A state-run narrative dominates the public psyche, and while many do not believe it, a large majority of the population falls victim to this false narrative. Sadly, this situation is unlikely to change.”

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Karen Attiah, editor of the newspaper’s Global Opinions section, said in an editor’s note that she received the column from Khashoggi’s translator and assistant on Oct. 3, the day after he was reported missing following a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Attiah wrote that the Post held off on publishing the article because its editors hoped Khashoggi would eventually turn up, and would be involved in the editing process.

“Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for the Post,” Attiah wrote.
“This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world. A freedom he apparently gave his life for.”

Turkish officials say they have evidence that Saudi Arabia deployed a 15-man hit squad to kill Khashoggi inside the consulate building. A pro-government newspaper even published a gruesome recounting of his alleged torture and death.

Saudi Arabia has strongly denied the allegations.

The United States and President Donald Trump have stopped short of condemning the conservative kingdom amid growing concerns over how Saudi Arabia’s relations with the U.S. and the rest of the world would be affected if it emerged that the country orchestrated Khashoggi’s killing.

Attiah told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that the explosion of the story provoked her and the Washington Post to publish the column to remind people of Khashoggi’s ideas and vision for the Arab world.

“We just decided we wanted to bring it back to his words, to his ideas, to his thoughts and who he was as a person and why he was so passionate about being free,” she said.

She said Khashoggi’s idea for the column came during a period of time when he expressed growing concern over the lack of free speech in the Arab world.

“He just saw how journalism was being smashed around the Arab world and so it was something he was really pushing for,” she said.

“It is poetic and it is fitting that this would be the last column that I would edit for him.”

Jamal Khashoggi was a Saudi Arabian journalist, columnist, author and former editor-in-chief of Al Arab news.

In September 2017 he started work as a columnist for the Washington Post.