Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Tribute to Jamal Khashoggi: when death is an inspiration

Ahmed Alnaouq | 01-11-2018


Jamal Khashoggi

Mr. Khashoggi:

My name is Ahmed, and I am from Gaza. I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting or even hearing about you when you were alive. Like thousands of others, I discovered you only after you went missing. Nevertheless, you have left a lasting mark and I hope to carry your legacy forward as a developing journalist. 

My earliest memories when I was in Gaza were mostly about war and violence. When I was in primary school, the news reported so many assassinations of leaders of my people I lost count. Every time a Palestinian role model was assassinated, the media and organizers of mass rallies proclaimed the murder would make us stronger and give birth to thousands of new leaders to take his place. But at the time, these speeches didn't inspire or even make much of an impression. They simply were too common. 

This time is different. You were not Palestinian, but I claim you as one of my leaders. Your death is my inspiration to follow in your footsteps, speaking truth to power.

It is ironic that you were murdered for your words, yet they went viral when you were killed. This was not a win for despots like Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It was a flame that ignited waiting matches like me.

Two days after you went missing, nearly all of the media worldwide covered your case, searching for the truth about what happened that day when you entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Like others, I devoured every scrap of news I could find. But I went even further, searching for your writings and interviews on video. I researched your beliefs and ideas for the future, like a man thirsting for water.

Jamal Khashoggi

What I learned gave me hope for the strength of the human spirit. You were a writer who fought for freedom and truth. The more I read, the deeper the shiver I felt down my spine: I want to be like you!

Many shed tears over your murder. But I believe your death is a rallying cry for all human rights defenders and those who previously silenced themselves in the presence of tyrants. 

Instead of squelching your voice, bin Salman and other oppressors have given new life to your words, which now are slogans for people longing to be free. Tragically, death sometimes is the cost of freedom. 

In your writings, you protected no one. You criticized the Saudi regime and its opponents indiscriminately. Even when you had reason to fear the Saudi regime and MBS, you defended the progressive measures taken by the crown prince, while pointing out his increasingly evident flaws. This taught me to be a seeker of truth, no matter where it leads me. 

You were accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, but you also called them to task on many occasions, advising them to renounce radical beliefs like adopting jihad as a path to change.

Likewise, you were one of the few in Saudi Arabia to oppose the war on Yemen and to advocate for peace talks. "I promote democracy, because democracy is the solution for these miserable republics," you wrote.

I long have searched for my passion and purpose in my life; now, I think I have found it. Unfortunately, a committed journalist today must be willing to sacrifice his life. Yet I've never been so sure of my direction. Millions of people live, eat, laugh, work and die simply for themselves and their families—and are eventually forgotten. A few live to speak for others and die as the price. But they are eternally remembered. 

You taught me that words are indeed mightier than bullets. 

Mr. Khashoggi, I know you are not be able to read this, but I hope your soul knows that your sacrifice has changed the life of a young writer from Gaza… 

May you rest in power.

Please join the call by Amnesty International for an independent U.N. investigation into Jamal's murder. Sign this petition

Posted: October 31, 2018

Mentor: Pam Bailey

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