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Opinion | What Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder Did to Us

In my homeland, Yemen, the situation is little different. Before the Houthis took control of Sana, the city had more than 20 independent daily and weekly newspapers. Now we have no independent press, only sectarian Houthi publications.
Since 2015, the Houthis have imprisoned more than a dozen journalists. In December 2016, my friend and colleague Mohammed al-Absi, who was Yemen’s most renowned investigative journalist, was assassinated in Sana. He was poisoned while working on a story investigating the war economy. Two years later, the United Nations Panel of Experts, citing and building on Mohammed’s work, concluded that Houthi warlords are some of the largest players involved in the illicit fuel trade in Yemen. Mohammed’s killers were never found or persecuted.
Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi women’s rights activist who dared to drive before Prince Mohammed allowed women to do so, recently shut down her Twitter account for the first time since 2008. Even Lebanon, where I have lived for many years and which I treasure as a rare oasis to think, speak and sing without worry, is losing its freedom of expression.
After Mr. al-Zamil, the Saudi economist Jamal and I met for dinner in 2017, was disappeared, I messaged Jamal pleading him not to return to Saudi Arabia. “I won’t be surprised if you are next,” I wrote.
“They all fall down the same way,” he replied, referring to authoritarian regimes.
A year later, Jamal’s remains are yet to be found, but the Saudi message, spoken on behalf of autocrats across the region, has been heard clearly: If you do not say what we would have you say, your death will be brutal, your body will vanish and you will never even be buried.
The murder of Jamal Khashoggi warned us all. Perhaps the greatest danger the Arab world faces today is that there will be no one left to shout, write or sing that the king is naked in a region plagued by too many kings.
Farea al-Muslimi is a co-founder and the chairman of the Sana Center for Strategic Studies and an associate fellow at Chatham House.
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