The Saudi Government’s Global Campaign to Silence Its Critics

The Saudi Government’s Global Campaign to Silence Its Critics

At school, Rana chafed under long hours of religious instruction, which taught her to fear hellfire and respect men as fundamentally superior.

The news puzzled Rana, who had painstakingly set her affairs in order before fleeing Saudi Arabia, registering at two separate government offices, including the Ministry of Commerce and Investment, to grant power of attorney to her co-founders.

Within days of arriving in Germany, Farah began receiving messages on Twitter and Snapchat from pro-government accounts, warning her that she’d pay for disgracing the reputation of Saudi Arabia.

In October, a Saudi official told Reuters that the crown prince has issued “standing orders to negotiate the return of dissidents,” adding that this gives officials “the authority to act without going back to the leadership.” These efforts, which were often directed by Saud al-Qahtani, a former senior adviser to the crown prince who has been implicated in Khashoggi’s death, have been expanded to target defectors and non-activists alike.

“He has no tolerance for anyone who might challenge or even complicate his image.” This chilling effect is also felt by many of the roughly ninety thousand Saudi students studying abroad on government scholarships.

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