Skip to main content

'The look on his face': Responses to MBS meeting Khashoggi's son

Activists and journalists take kingdom to task after Saudi's official news agency releases photos of the Khashoggis and royals shaking hands
The Saudi king and crown prince greet Khashoggi's son, Salah, in Riyadh on Tuesday (Reuters/SPA)

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and his son, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, received the son and another relative of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Photos of the meeting released by the state-run Saudi Press Agency showed Khashoggi’s son, Salah, and one of his relatives, Sahl Ahmed Khashoggi, shaking hands with the king and the crown prince.

From activists to journalists, observers were quick to respond on social media, scrutinising the images and analysing the body language of Khashoggi’s son and the Saudi royals.

Khashoggi was reported missing after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul 2 October but failed to return. Saudi officials insisted for weeks that he had left the building alive, but said on Saturday that he had been killed after a fight broke out inside the building.

People around the world have been struck by the look on Salah's face as he shakes hands with MBS, as well as the presence of a bodyguard, who stands poised with a hand on his gun.

Al Jazeera journalist Jamal Elshayyal and others highlighted the creased appearance of Salah’s clothing, suspecting he may have been forcibly dragged to the palace.

Speaking to Middle East Eye, Saudi human rights activist and close friend of the late Khashoggi, Yahya Assiri, said the visit was “a serious assault on the family” of the murdered journalist, particularly as authorities continue to bar them from travelling.

The meeting comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s much anticipated “naked truth” speech on Tuesday, in which he shared little new information but dismissed much of the Saudi explanation of the murder.

“All evidence gathered shows that Jamal Khashoggi was the victim of a savage murder. To cover up such a savagery would hurt the human conscience,” he said, speaking in parliament.

Travel ban

According to Assiri, members of Khashoggi’s family have been barred from travelling since the journalist left Saudi Arabia last year. This ban was meant to put pressure on Kashoggi to return to the kingdom. 

Since Khashoggi’s death, social media users, including his editor at the Washington Post, have called on the kingdom to lift the ban in order for the family to mourn his death together.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.