December 15, 2018

Press Freedom

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia March 3, 2006

H.M. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud
Prime Minister
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
c/o HRH Prince Turki al-Faisal
Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
601 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington , DC 20037
Fax: (202) 337-4134
 

Your Majesty:
 

We write to protest the closing by Saudi authorities of the tabloid weekly, Shams, after it re-printed three of the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. While we understand the sensitivities that have been offended by these cartoons, we must insist that the free media must have the right to dispense facts, opinions and images, even when they are offensive, without official interference or retribution. The Overseas Press Club of America has been defending journalists and press freedom around the world for more than 65 years.
 

We find your government’s action particularly dismaying because the publication had apparently been approved. The editor of Shams , who did not want his name used, told the Associated Press that he printed the blurred photo of three of the original cartoons in obedience to a religious edict by your country’s highest mufti, who the editor said recently urged republication of the cartoons “to show their ugliness and to expand the volume of anger.” He also said that the edition of Shams that carried the cartoons had been approved by the Ministry of Information before its distribution, the AP reported.
 

Your Majesty, this controversy has been provocative in its origins, mischievous in its exploitation and tragic in its consequences. We hope it may subside without further damage. But it would be harmful indeed if the episode served to justify suppression of the basic human right of freedom of expression. We hope you will continue to call for moderation and non-violence in protesting the cartoons, but we also urge you to underscore the value of a free exchange of views.
 

Respectfully yours,
Larry Martz
Norman A. Schorr
Co-chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee

cc:   HRH Prince Turki al-Faisal

Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the U.S.A.

Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

601 New Hampshire Avenue, NW

Washington , DC 20037

Fax: (202) 342-3800

 

 

Ambassador Fawzi bin Abd al-Majid al-Shubukshi

Permanent Representative

Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

to the United Nations

405 Lexington Avenue , 56 th Floor

New York , NY 10017

Fax: (212) 983-4895

 

 

James C. Oberwetter

U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Embassy of the United States of America

P.O. Box 94309

Riyadh 11693

Saudi Arabia

Fax: (011.966.1) 488-7360