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Khashoggi Supporters Launch Pro-Democracy Group 2 Years After His Death


Two years ago today, Jamal Khashoggi walked into a Saudi consulate and never walked out. Agents of his native Saudi Arabia murdered the journalist from The Washington Post. Steve Inskeep reports that an initiative he started still lives on.


Before his death, Khashoggi started an organization called DAWN. Friends and supporters have now made it active. Its purpose is to produce human rights information and journalism about Saudi Arabia, the very work Khashoggi was doing when he was killed. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. And DAWN stands for Democracy for the Arab World Now. Its directors include Abdullah Alaoudh, who's in Washington.

ABDULLAH ALAOUDH: The idea is to have profiles of those courageous voices of the kingdom to tell their arrests and trials, but also their stories - the complete and detailed profiles of each one of them dependent on legal documents, witnesses, documentation on the ground, our connections that we have, voices from within. And second - to also shed light on the always overlooked section, which is what we call the culprits gallery, who want to make it uncomfortable even for them to travel around to go to Disneyland in the U.S. after they just sentenced a minor to death, like one of the judges did in 2016.

INSKEEP: I want to go to the website. What's the address?

ALAOUDH: It's Dawn - D-A-W-N, M-E-N-A.

INSKEEP: There we go. Now it's loading. Excellent, excellent. You have a kind of editorial here calling on mayors not to attend a G-20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia.

ALAOUDH: Yes. Absolutely. We also engage in advocacy, trying to make it harder for those in Saudi Arabia and on top of power to just do business as usual.

INSKEEP: You have an interview here with Hala Aldosari, who says, in Saudi Arabia, peaceful activism is considered an act of terrorism. Who is Hala Aldosari?

ALAOUDH: Hala Aldosari is a former MIT fellow. She's a prominent Saudi feminist. She was referring to the counterterrorism law in Saudi Arabia that actually did not just see activism as illegal, but also an act of terrorism.

INSKEEP: So are you hearing from people in Saudi Arabia who are reading your material?

ALAOUDH: Yes. We absolutely hear back from them. We actually - believe it or not, we have a section that we call anonymous interview. And I have done a great interview with a judge, a Saudi judge. The idea of anonymous interview is to do an interview with somebody from within the system who has an insight and who wants to be, you know, transparent. But at the same time, we want and he wants or she wants to protect their identities so they do not receive the wrath of the government. So we do this anonymous interview with a Saudi judge who talked about the legal system in Saudi Arabia, the loopholes and the mockery of those involved in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia.

INSKEEP: Have you heard anything from the government about what you're doing?

ALAOUDH: Well, we hear indirectly through the harassment, through the threats that we get on Twitter every day, through the - actually machine of defamation and machine of smears that we get on a regular basis. I think that's the response that we get from them.

INSKEEP: You know, of course, that Jamal Khashoggi was killed by a government which now says, oh, sorry, we really regret that happened. We brought people to justice. We're trying to make sure that never happens again. Do you regard yourself as being in danger?

ALAOUDH: Well, I always think about that. But I really crossed that bridge a while ago. And I think there is no turning back. I think the idea of killing Khashoggi in such a way was to send a message to somebody like me and other people and other Saudis and other activists around the world. But the message we sent back is that nothing will stop us.

INSKEEP: Abdullah Alaoudh of DAWN, an organization founded by the late Jamal Khashoggi. Thank you very much.

ALAOUDH: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.