A Washington, DC neighborhood commission has decided to not-so-quietly stick a thumb in the eye of an autocrat with a gesture honoring Jamal Khashoggi.
Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A unanimously agreed on November 28 to rename a street after Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, believed by the CIA to be slain on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. The commission has chosen the renamed street—possibly soon to be called “Jamal Khashoggi Way”—to be the section running directly in front of the Saudi embassy.
Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, in Washington, DC, praised the decision.
“I think it’s a great idea that there should be a permanent reminder of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and that it’s directly outside the embassy,” Hooper told Grit Post. “Obviously this is an idea that’s been circulating since his death.”
Hooper said the decision is only a recommendation that must also go before the city council and may even face comment from Congress before a sign can finally pop up outside embassy windows, but he lauded the association’s unanimous decision as a good first step.
Commission member James Harnett told reporters that he hoped the renamed street would serve as a reminder to the Saudi nation that the U.S. is still committed to protecting journalists.
“This action will force the Saudis to remember, every day,” Harnett said. “This assault on the press is unforgivable and is deeply harmful to the fabric of the truth. Leaders at all levels of government need to stand up in whatever ways they can to support people, make their lives better, and push for what’s right. Up against the leaders who have abandoned their duty, this proposal is our way of pushing back.”
Khashoggi’s October 2 murder and gruesome dismemberment inside the Saudi Consulate, in Istanbul, ignited fury at the violent royal family, whose crimes have been ignored by doting U.S. allies for years, primarily because of the family’s extremely deep pockets. The family does brisk business with U.S. corporations, and even routinely invests in California tech start-ups.
But while Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman palls around with the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Oprah, few questions get asked about his nation’s bloody public executions and its countless restrictions on women. Only recently have women even been able to drive in Saudi Arabia. Other Saudi women and their male allies remain in prison for daring to demand their rights.
Khashoggi’s murder at the order of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has caused some discomfort with President Donald Trump, who is heavily invested in the royal family’s money. So much so, in fact, that Trump’s opinions on the murder run counter to that of his own intelligence agencies. Their contradiction results in some very puzzling web search returns.
Washington, DC resident and political analyst Atiba Madyun said Saudi leaders needed to answer for their horrific crimes, including Khashoggi’s murder, but said he was not satisfied with the possibility of a mere sign change. The U.S., he said, needed to change its whole policy toward the Saudi royal family.
“I don’t know if changing a street name does anything,” Madyun told Grit Post. “There’s a lot more that citizens can do. … There are other ways to go about keeping (Khashoggi’s) name in remembrance. What is more important is making sure that this doesn’t happen to any other citizens.”
Madyun added that the U.S. was too quick to point fingers at other nations’ atrocities without looking inward at our own history of barbarity.
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