I will answer the question posed in the title frankly, and what invites me to write is an article recently published by the Washington Post correspondent in Saudi Arabia, Anuj Chopra, who says that freedom of opinion in the Kingdom has been reduced during the past years, and I will respond to the article from the paragraphs of the article itself!I think that the reporter was confused, in terms of narrating and explaining the events, and I might say that he misunderstood and interpreted many of them. What may seem to him incomprehensible and logical, there may be another explanation for him.
Chopra mentions in his article that the massive change in Saudi Arabia in four years is a change of more than forty years, and with him is right, but what he did not conclude in his article, that this dramatic change in this relatively short time, would have been difficult to happen in this period without the presence of A firm will, and that every change has requirements and consequences. In my opinion, what happened in the Saudi media during the past four years is somewhat similar in the picture to the orders of the Public Prosecutor or the court in many countries of the world, when a decision (preventing publication for the sake of investigations or the case) was issued. Saudi society was relatively closed, and there It has a huge influence for the Awakening and a great influence on the mentality of the people, and the Muslim Brotherhood had a great influence in the media, so how could these reforms have taken place if the validity of some media was not restricted for a certain period?! Otherwise, the Awakening, some hardliners of the religious movement and the Brotherhood, and those who benefit from corruption, will inflame the people, put obstacles in the way of any reforms, and they will use the media as a weapon, and they are the ones who owned many of the keys to the media for decades. Therefore, the temporary scaling that the writer mentioned was for the most important issue of the country, which is the major reforms, which took place in a few years, which by the writer’s admission more than 40 years of changes.
The writer says in his article that there is a spread of what he called a wave of (hyper-patriotism) in social media, and I think that the writer was not accurate in accusing the government in it!. There are several categories of social media activists, there are patriots and enthusiasts for change, and this freedom of opinion is respected all over the world, since they do not accuse others, and do not distribute patriotic instruments to them, and the media must respect their choices, and they believe that Mohammed bin Salman (mbs) is their ideal and leader. Change. There is another category, climbers and trying to rise the wave and flattery, so that they may obtain certain benefits, and they try to appear close to the government to attract followers, and this is something that the government cannot blame for it, because in any wave of change throughout history, there were such types. There is a third category who are trying to wash their unbalanced past, and they were either the remnants of the Brotherhood or awakening, or even corruption, and they try to outbid others out of patriotism. And there is a fourth group that is fanatical by nature that adopted an extremist health or Brotherhood ideology or even a strict culture and got used to being strict in most of their affairs. When the Saudi wave of change came, they also rode the wave with strictness, thinking that they were the patriots, and began distributing patriotic instruments, but they have nothing to do with the government. I will give two clear examples to the writer, that the government has no interference in these categories. Many activists in the media claim closeness to the government, when they made mistakes they were held accountable, and they did not have immunity from the government. Also, the Saudi government is deeper in thought and strategy than being managed by hashtags, or the thought of social media activists. It coordinated and completed the Gulf reconciliation, and the communication activists were in a kind of war of Dahes and Al-Ghabra.
I do not claim to be close to the Saudi government, but what we know as Saudis is that the friend of the media and the closest family member to the media for decades was Prince Salman, so what about after he became king, we believe that there will be support for the media and the press, perhaps this temporary period is a stage of reform and change, so the government does not want A kind of turmoil and media disruption, but a country that has developed in all fields over the past years, media development must be on the agenda of the King and the Crown Prince.
As a matter of impartiality and objectivity, the international media as a whole is now in a state of massive polarization, and this is acknowledged and witnessed, especially the left. The press has changed, and impartiality has decreased, even in countries that claim freedom of the press and opinion. And let’s talk about your newspaper, The Washington Post, as an example. Was it possible decades ago, during the era of the summit of media objectivity, that the Washington Post publishes weak news with the testimony of specialists, to satisfy its owner or to distract attention from some of its owner’s news and leaks!.
From the beginning of the article, I can easily say that there is a conflict of interest, and the Washington Post is not impartial because it has positioned itself as a public opponent of the Saudi government after the Khashoggi case, and since you work in this newspaper, you are considered subjective in your judgments, but in this article I chose to explain things from a different perspective , and a certain angle, explaining to you some of which I thought were paradoxes. I am not telling you that in Saudi Arabia we are angels or that there are no mistakes in the largest process of change and reform of a state in the modern era, because mistakes are part of any change process, even at the level of a company when you start a restructuring process, mistakes happen, let alone a big country like Saudi Arabia .
In terms of disclosure and transparency, I do not have any financial or business relationship with the Saudi government, and you can be sure of that, but I found it unfair to accuse the government of everything, even the mistakes of people who do not belong to it. In practice, the media has not been reduced to the image and size that you mentioned, but to this day we, as media professionals, criticize the performance of all state officials, including ministers and members of the ruling family, and we exclude the heads of the state since we are a royal state with its laws and foundations that must be respected, but I give you a clear example that the freedom of the media It increased in certain matters even over previous decades, such as criticizing corruption if it was from the ministerial class and the ruling family. Previously, it was rarely announced, but now matters are announced to the media with clarity. Previously, he did not describe corruption in relation to the sovereign ministries, and now it is almost periodically announced by senior officials in the largest sovereign ministries. If some media professionals do not perform their work efficiently and are not criticized, this is not because of the government, but because of weakness or cajoling, and this type of journalists exists all over the world.
Let me tell you it frankly, from a person who visits Saudi Arabia from time to time, and witnesses the change and the tremendous development, the man must be given his right, Muhammad bin Salman (mbs), he does what was previously almost impossible, I do not invite you to praise him, but write about him objectively.
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