Freedom of the Press Suffers in Saudi Arabia


Kate Hentz, Layout Editor

Censorship has a dangerous presence in Saudi Arabia. Recently, freedom of the press in Saudi Arabia has turned deadly with the killing of Saudi journalist and Washington Post Columnist, Jamal Khashoggi. Due to a rise in domestic criticism over their war with Yemen, Saudi Arabia has begun to crack down on freedom of the press.
Restrictions of the press is nothing new to Saudi Arabia. In 1992 Saudi Arabia wrote Article 39 in their Basic Law, which listed limitations to journalists. According to Article 39, publications may not interfere with national security, disunity, or defamation. In 2011, the Saudi government sparked more controversy when they added more press restrictions. Due to increasing tensions in the Middle East, the monarchy banned any publications that contradicted Sharia Law (Islamic law based off the Quran), slandered a religious figure, or was harmful to the state. If a journalist breaks one of the restrictions, he or she is subject to detention without trial, exile, or physical punishment such as flogging.
Khashoggi, in particular, was on a self imposed exile, because he felt unsafe with the Saudi punishments in place for journalists. While in exile Khashoggi wrote a series of articles in the Washington Post bashing the Saudi regime. In his column, Khashoggi labeled Saudi Arabia oppressive, repressive, messy and compared Saudi Arabia’s crown prince to Vladimir Putin.
Saudi Arabia enforced their brutal press policy on Khashoggi, when he traveled to his country’s consulate to receive documents for his Turkish finance. There, Khashoggi was killed by a 15 man hit-squad assumingly sent by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman.
Khashoggi’s murder is clear signal that Saudi Arabia’s progress in human rights has come to a halting stop. The international community praised Prince Salman steps towards bettering human rights when they legalized women’s licenses to drive. However, the Saudi Regime connection to Khashoggi’s murder shows that human rights in their nation is in a downward spiral.