habeas corpus


Saudi consulate

Whatever happened to the Saudi journalist inside or outside the KSA consulate in Istanbul appears very frightening. Not just for the Saudis but for any dissenting voice in a region that has become increasingly sucked into a black hole of violence and intolerance.

No one should ever have to pay a price, any price, for expressing an opinion.

But we have to put things in perspective.

Khashoggi has been frequently described as prominent or leading opposition, a thorn in the side of regime etc, and often presented as a tireless campaigner for democracy and human rights. That’s a bit rich, if not downright misleading.

The man has been in bed with Al-Saud all his professional career, or at least with some wings of the family. His fortunes went up or down depending what happened to this or that wing. In fact, even after his sudden change of heart during the past year or so, his criticism of the regime lately was so mild that it can only go to show — if it is true the regime lies behind his disappearance/murder — how intolerant and brutal the Saudi despot has become.


I rarely finished reading an article by him, because it had nothing of the fire and passion of real opposition, or the intellectual probing of someone who is looking for answers to the entrenched malaise of the Middle East. They were often a rehash of a pan-Arab and pan-Islamist platitudes, sometimes dressed up in the language of civil and democratic rights.

But we still do not know for sure what actually has happened to him, and we may never find out. At the end of the day, Al Saud made him and they saw now it fit to unmake him, or so it seems at least at the moment. But that’s not the whole pictures. Like other supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood addressing the West, he’s mastered the art of double-speak, human-rights and democracy in English–  in Arabic, like his Islamist brethren,  he wants the rule of Islamic sharia and the penal code of 7th century Arabia, which we all know is incompatible with democratic values and human rights.


It’s also deeply ironic as well as revealing, that the man now speaking on his behalf in Turkey, is himself a jailer of journalists and killer of the opposition under one pretext or the other. This man — surprise surprise — is the Turkish version of the intolerant and regressive Muslim Brotherhood.

It’s perhaps the sign of our  times that we sometimes find ourselves forced to take sides with people we loathe. Especially in the Middle East, there are only villains on the stage. No good guys. Yet, Erdogan is right in demanding a complete and credible explanation from the Saudis : evidence of what exactly happened to Khashoggi after he stepped inside that building.

Magdi Abdelhadi

Writer, broadcaster, moderator, media consultant. I commute between London and Cairo. I am a former BBC journalist. All views here are only mine.


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