Free speech—It is something that those of us who live in the United States take for granted. The ability to say what we want about any topic is not a luxury that everybody has access to. The First Amendment of the Constitution grants us our freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to petition the government. Certain countries, though, do not have documents giving their citizens these rights, which puts an exponential amount of limits on journalists from these areas.
Turkish officials made the statement that Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by the Saudi government. Shortly after arriving at the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd, he was never seen again. Khashoggi was reported to have been there in order to get the correct paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancé, but Turkish security officials concluded that this assassination was premeditated, and they had brought a bone saw for the dismemberment of Khashoggi. There was evidence captured on security cameras that large vans belonging to Saudi Arabian officials were circulating the consulate around the time of Khashoggi’s disappearance.
While these suspicions against the Saudi Arabian government are only alleged, there are reasonable motives that support why they would have committed the assassination. His political activism showed through his writings, in which he sometimes utilized his voice to make criticisms about the Saudi Arabian government. Khashoggi was reported by his friends to have such a passion for his work, he was willing to put his life on the line. Despite his patriotism, he moved from Saudi Arabia to Washington and began writing for the Post, where he openly voiced his opinions on the condition of his country.
“When I speak of the fear, intimidation, arrests and public shaming of intellectuals and religious leaders who dare to speak their minds, and then I tell you that I am from Saudi Arabia, are you surprised?” said Khashoggi in his Washington Post article Saudi Arabia wasn’t always this repressive. Now it’s unbearable.
This news has been making national headlines due to what it may mean for the future of the United States’ alliance with Saudi Arabia. While the acts committed by the government are only alleged for the time being, President Donald Trump wants immediate answers as to what happened to the journalist, and proof of the Saudi government’s claims that they did not commit the assassination. Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the leader of Saudi Arabia, has recently been under fire for killing his own civilians and causing turmoil in his country. As of now, the U.S. maintains full diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia.
Contrary to popular belief, these kinds of issues happen worldwide, and can even be domestic. Recently, a high school student journalist in California has been under fire for his video in the school newspaper that was said to have depicted Arabs as terrorists. Upon being removed from his school newspaper staff, the seventeen-year-old who published the video immediately sought legal action under the claim that his removal from the staff was a violation of his First Amendment rights.
The lines of what free speech is deemed acceptable and what is deemed unpublishable are not just blurred in countries who do not have the First Amendment but are also blurred in the United States as well. Journalists like Jamal Khashoggi fight for their opportunity to breach the restrictions on what they cannot talk about, even if it means risking everything.
Information provided by CNN, Irish Times, and Washington Post.
By: Emma Kafka