Social media users link vanishing of Jamal Khashoggi with recent arrests of Saudi activists and call on international organisations to take action
From supporters to critics to colleagues, the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist, in Istanbul has set social media on fire.
Khashoggi was visiting the Saudi consulate in the Turkish capital on Tuesday to complete an application to obtain proof of his recent divorce so he could marry his new fiancée.
By Tuesday afternoon, when he failed to return from the appointment, Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, contacted Turkish authorities for help.
A Saudi official told Reuters on Wednesday that reports that Khashoggi went missing inside the Saudi consulate "are false" and that he had exited the building shortly after requesting paperwork.
With reports of his disappearance came a wave of response on social media under the hashtag #اختطاف_جمال_خاشقجي - Arabic for 'JamalKhashoggiKidnapped'.
Many expressed concerns for Khashoggi, with some criticising the Saudi government for its recent crackdown on dissenting voices, while others suggested that those attacking Saudi Arabia were jumping to conclusions.
We’re very concerned about Jamal Kashoggi, a Washpost contributor missing after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Is kidnapping leading journalists MBS’s idea of reform? https://t.co/EEHJlyooZt
— Jackson Diehl (@JacksonDiehl) October 2, 2018
Kidnapping?? You have information he was kidnapped?? This is Jackson Diehl for you guys, spreading lies & misguid people. BLOCK
— خالد الراقي (@vendetta013) October 3, 2018
This is a horrendous violation. It signals to dissidents that they are unsafe in embassies of their countries, not just at “home” but abroad too. And it seems to suggest that other regimes are complicit. #JamalKhashoggiDisappeared
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) October 2, 2018
Some drew connections between his disappearance and the wave of arrests in the kingdom over the past year:
وجاء اعتقال السيد خاشقجي على ما يبدو في أعقاب موجات من الاعتقالات لرجال الدين والمثقفين والنشطاء ورجال الأعمال السعوديين خلال العام الماضي حيث سعى حاكم البلاد ، ولي العهد محمد بن سلمان ، إلى تعزيز سيطرته وخلع المعارضة. #اختطاف_جمال_خاشقجي
— KYAN ORION (@orionkyan) October 3, 2018
Translation: The arrest of Mr Khashoggi appears to have followed waves of arrests of Saudi clerics, intellectuals, activists and businessmen during the past year as the country’s ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, sought to strengthen his control and oust the opposition'
Jamal Khashoggi has been forcibly disappeared in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.
Saudi journalist, His opinion pieces in Washington post has drawn fire in the Saudi press, all because he dared write about a crackdown on free speech in the angry Kingdom!#JamalKhashoggiDisappeared
— Neven Melek Activist نيفين ملك (@neveenmelek) October 2, 2018
لم تقتصر حملات التنكيل والملاحقة على المعارضين في الداخل فحسب، بل في الخارج أيضًا، وذلك عبر الضغط عليهم بوسائل وأساليب عدة، منها اعتقال أقارب وذوي المنتقدين لسياسة المملكة وولي عهدها في الخارج، كنوع من الضغط عليهم،#اختطاف_جمال_خاشقجي
— وسيم الراعي (@waseem2alraay) October 3, 2018
Translation: The crackdown has not only been carried out against opponents at home, but also abroad, by pressuring them with several ways and means, including arresting relatives and people who are critical of the kingdom’s policy and its ruler abroad to exert more pressure on them #JamalKhashoggiKidnapped
Khashoggi, 59, the former editor-in-chief of Saudis newspapers al-Arab and Watan, was once considered to be close to the royal court.
But in September 2017, he fled the kingdom after he said Saudi authorities told him he was banned from writing and tweeting after telling an audience at the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy that Saudi Arabia should be "rightfully nervous about a Trump presidency".
"I have left my home, my family and my job, and I am raising my voice," he wrote in September 2017. "To do otherwise would betray those who languish in prison. I can speak when so many cannot."
Eli Lopez, senior editor of Global Opinions at the Washington Post, said the newspaper is "very concerned" about where Khashoggi may be after failing to reach him on Tuesday.
"We are monitoring the situation closely, trying to gather more information," Lopez told MEE in an email.
Some social media users have also called for immediate action from international organisations, or used the incident to raise awareness of critics of the Saudi government who have faced consequences for speaking out:
So as long as #MBS pays off countries with hush money, every country stays silent, right?
Because #HumanRights mean nothing next to pile of cash.
It’s time for @hrw to intervene and demand action immediately!#StopSaudi #FreeSaudiActivists #جمال_خاشقجي #اختفاء_جمال_خاشقجي https://t.co/WIZQ071vnu
— Amani Al-Ahmadi (@amani_aal) October 3, 2018
Nowhere is safe for #Saudi dissidents! #اختطاف_جمال_خاشقجي
- @oamaz7 is based in #Canada, but his loved ones in #SaudiArabia were arrested.
- @GhanemAlmasarir was harassed in #London.
- @JKhashoggi was kidnapped in #Turkey.
The Crown Prince's repression knows no borders! pic.twitter.com/VcH2CBVXk8
— Sarah Al-Otaibi (@SarahAlOxoxo) October 2, 2018