Many prominent Saudi activists have pointed out that the murder of the remaining Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was a political problem, despite alleged efforts by kingdom authorities to reduce it to a family problem.
Khashoggi, a well-known journalist in the Arab world who has also written opinion pieces for the Washington Post, was killed in October 2018 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents to marry his Turkish fiance. His body was dismembered and never recovered.
The Saudi activists’ comments came after Khashoggi’s son Salah posted a brief statement on Twitter on Friday, saying his family had forgiven those responsible for the murder of his father.
“On this blessed night of the blessed month [of Ramadan], we remember the word of God: if a person forgives and reconciles, his reward is due by Allah, “he posted.
“Therefore, we, the sons of martyr Jamal Khashoggi, announce that we forgive those who killed our father, seeking to reward Almighty God. “
However, Khashoggi’s Turkish fiance, Hatice Cengiz, has abandoned the statement, saying that “no one has the right to forgive killers” and that it will not stop until justice is done.
Jamal Khashoggi has become an international symbol greater than all of us, admired and loved. His ambush and heinous murder has no limitation statue and no one has the right to forgive his killers.
Me and the others won’t stop until #JusticeForJamal (1/2) pic.twitter.com/hX0kFRPNvr
– Hatice Cengiz / خديجة (@mercan_resifi) May 22, 2020
It was a sentiment also shared by many Saudi activists, who said they saw the killing of Khashoggi as a political issue rather than a personal one.
“The murder of Jamal Khashoggi is not a family affair, it is not a mistake in normal circumstances,” said Yahya Assiri, head of the UK-based Saudi rights group ALQST.
“The authorities killed him because of his political work,” said Assiri. “His case is political, so stay silent. “
Over 4 months ago, I predicted the “forgiveness of the family of #Khashoggi“To let the killers pick up.” Right from the start, the Saudi GA asked for a “retaliatory death penalty” that can be easily pardoned by any member of the family, and that is exactly what has happened now https: // t .co / JIEwEPPaIK
– د. عبدالله العودة (@aalodah) May 22, 2020
Assiri shared a statement signed by at least two dozen Saudi activists and dissidents in December of last year, dismissing Saudi legal proceedings in the Khashoggi murder case.
“We categorically reject the Saudi trial in the Khashoggi case and the resulting judgments,” the statement said.
“The trial is unfair, the Saudi judicial system is corrupt and not independent, and the main suspect in this case is the Saudi Crown Prince, who controls the conduct of the trials. “
The signatories of the statement said that they had condemned the Saudi authorities to use the family of the late journalist to “whitewash the country’s judicial system … overshadow the case of Khashoggi”.
He said Khashoggi’s family or some of its members were not entirely free to say what they wanted.
” [The] the fact is, the issue is not just about Jamal Khashoggi’s family, but is more a matter of public opinion because Khashoggi was a political writer who criticized and was killed for the political system. ”
Omaima al-Najjar, a Saudi activist, said it was imperative to continue pushing for the Khashoggi case in the context of freedom of expression. It would be stay in the public eye for several reasons, she said.
|New details revealed on Khashoggi’s murder|
“Martyr for a cause”
Some activists also shared a six-year-old Saudi Supreme Court document on social media that there could be no pardon for the perpetrators.
Under Islamic law followed by Saudi Arabia, death sentences could be commuted if the victim’s family forgives the perpetrator.
But activists argue that this applies to cases of family disputes or personal grievances, and not in a political case like that of Khashoggi.
“The supervision of punishment by the public prosecutor [of Khashoggi’s killers] as “retribution” from the start, it was clear that there was an intention to exonerate his murderers through a family pardon, “said Abdullah Alaoudh, a Saudi academic at Georgetown University .
“Unfortunately, what happened was expected. “
Karen Attiah, editor of the Washington Post, for which Khashoggi wrote articles, said his sons “capitulated and allowed their father’s murderers to be released.”
“We, the sons of the martyr, Jamal Khashoggi – whom we have forgiven the killer of our father – God has mercy on his soul – for the love of God, while we all seek and hope for the reward of God. “
Jamal’s sons surrendered and allowed their father’s murderers to free themselves. No justice. https://t.co/cD7psd9XSr
– Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) May 22, 2020
But Abdulaziz Almoayyad, a Dublin-based Saudi activist, told Al Jazeera that he disagreed with any reaction against the Khashoggi family.
“It is immoral that the media focus such attention on Khashoggi’s family, especially since it is clear that they are under pressure from the Saudi fascist regime,” he said.
“They are in the lap of autocracy, and we have no right to criticize or judge what they say,” he added, calling Khashoggi “martyr for a cause”.
“Parody of Justice”
Agnes Callamard, the UN rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, said on Friday that the “shocking” decision by Khashoggi’s sons to “forgive” their father’s killers was just another step in the “travesty of justice ”in Saudi Arabia.
Callamard said the decision was “the final act [Saudi Arabia’s] parody of justice well repeated before an international community far too ready to be deceived. “
“Act 1 was their pretext for an investigation,” she said, adding that the team sent by Riyadh to assist in the investigation had in fact been ordered to “clean up the crime scene”, accusing him of “obstructing justice”.
Almost a month after Khashoggi’s murder, a CIA report concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) had given orders to kill the Saudi dissident.
In September 2019, the Saudi Crown Prince said he assumed personal responsibility for the crime because “it took place during his reign.”
Last December, the Saudi judiciary issued preliminary rulings in the case, according to which three senior officials – Saud al-Qahtani, former adviser to MBS; Mohammed al-Otaibi, the Saudi consul in Istanbul; and Ahmed al-Asiri, the former deputy director of intelligence – were acquitted of the crime.
Around the same time, five people were sentenced to death and three others imprisoned for 24 years for the murder, after the prosecution did not disclose the names of those convicted.
The decisions have been criticized by international bodies as a “sham”, stating that their goal was for the kingdom to avoid holding the real culprits accountable.
In the United States, the chairman of the House of Representatives’ intelligence committee, Adam Schiff, said the decisions were a continuation of the kingdom’s efforts to distance Saudi leaders – including the crown prince – from the brutal assassination. , adding that the crime was willful and not the result of a sudden decision or an abnormal process.