Following the killing of American journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Siddrah was inspired to write an opinion piece on the power of journalism. Read below for another powerful insight by one of our APC staff writers!
As a passionate American teenager with a Middle Eastern ethnicity ambitious to pursue my education in the field of journalism, the typical exchange I have between Arab family members and adults when discussing my future results in them having responses such as; “You want to be a journalist?! You do know that they are going to (imprison, kidnap, kill) you right?”
Those are only some of the quite irrational statements adults tell me; a teenager in the midst of starting my college education and deciding the course I want my life to take. Being bicultural and bilingual, I was always interested in becoming a foreign correspondent at one point in my life. Instead of receiving words of encouragement, I was warned and discouraged. Although these shocking responses associated with journalism don’t really phase me, and at the end of the day, I begin to question if they are even as unreasonable as they sound. When I read that 45 journalists have been killed in 2018 and that 262 of them have been imprisoned in 2017 (Committee to Protect Journalists), I don’t doubt that the freedom of the press is being targeted worldwide. When I view the news and discover that a journalist has been killed and dismembered, I don’t see the reactions those adults have as exaggerations.
On October 14, 2018, The New York Times published an article titled “For Khashoggi, a Tangled Mix of Royal Service and Islamist Sympathies” on their front page. Khashoggi, a journalist, was last seen on Oct. 2 where he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and did not return. Saudi agents had killed and dismembered him. Prior to his murder, he was banned from writing in the Kingdom and on his Twitter. This form of censorship was taken to the extreme, and to censor his criticism of the Kingdom’s policies; they silenced him completely.
The ongoing problem prominent in the Middle East is the suppression of the freedom of speech and of the press. This is why my choice of studies is usually interrogated. Majoring in Journalism could mean being silenced by those who are not accustomed to being open-minded. Yet despite the growing threat that has been placed on the press, and the high chances that those statistics of deaths and imprisonment could grow; I believe that this is the best time to use my right and my voice. I won’t let the numbers and the culture hold me back from speaking up. I won’t let the possibility of being censored hinder my words from being written and read. I won’t let the power behind my education be stripped away from me. I won’t let my passion for delivering truth to the people be suppressed because of the negative outcomes that might come my way. I always tell the Arab-adults in our exchanges, that if I were to die, then so be it. Maybe like Khashoggi’s, my death will spark a revolution to fight for our basic right of speech.