Khashoggi sons concerned about misuse of legacy

Manama: Abdullah and Salah, the sons of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, said they were concerned about how people are using their father’s legacy for political purposes.

“Jamal was a moderate person. He was liked by everybody. He had differences and common values with everyone,” Salah said in an interview with CNN late on Sunday.

“I see a lot of people coming out right now and trying to claim his legacy and unfortunately some of them are using that in a political way that we totally don’t agree with. Public opinion is important but my fear is that it is being over politicised. People are throwing analyses that may direct us away from the truth.”

Salah added that he wanted his father to be remembered as “a moderate man who has common values like everyone… a man who loved his country, who believed so much in it and its potential.”

“Jamal was never a dissident. He believed in the monarchy, that it is the thing that is keeping the country together. And he believed in the transformation that it is going through.”

Abdullah, who lives in the UAE, told CNN that the situation was difficult and confusing for the family.

“We’re looking at the media and the misinformation. There’s a lot of ups and downs. We’re trying to be emotional and at the same time we’re trying to get the story – bits and pieces of the story to complete the whole picture. It’s confusing and difficult. It’s not a normal situation and not a normal death,” he said.

Abdullah was the last of Khashoggi’s children to see him alive.

When he heard the journalist was going to be in Turkey he went to visit him.

“He was happy. It was a very good opportunity for me to see him. We hung out in Istanbul, we had fun,” Abdullah said. “I was really lucky to have had those last moments with him. I feel very grateful.”

Following the murder, Abdullah was the first family member to visit Khashoggi’s apartment in Virginia. There, he said, he found that his father had placed a photograph of his grandchildren, Abdullah’s two children and Salah’s daughter, by his bed.

Abdullah says he realised how much his father loved his family, placing a photograph where he would see them last thing at night.

“That shocked me,” Abdullah said. “It put an emphasis on his gentle, tender side of loving his family, his grandkids. It’s just something huge and it touched me personally and all the family members when they knew about it.”

The brothers said their father was planning to leave the Washington area and move to Turkey so he could be closer to his children and grandchildren.

“The main reason behind him choosing to live in Turkey was to be closer to his family. He has a very special relationship with all of his sisters. It’s been hard for all of us to hear the tragic news,” Salah said.

They said he was a genuine and happy person and an amazing father.

When they were out with him in Saudi Arabia, they could see how his career as a journalist made him “like a rock and roll star”.

“He was a public figure who was liked by everyone else,” Salah said. “You don’t see that much in media, in print media.”

Salah, Abdullah and their sisters Noha, 27 and Razan, 25, want to get on with their lives, living and working in the Middle East.

Salah, due to go back to his banking job in Jeddah very soon, has concerns about comments on social media and ways of analysing the whole situation.

“I understand why they’re trying to do that. They’re trying to get as much information as they can out of anything, which is something that we’re also doing. Sometimes they’re just baseless claims, sometimes they just don’t make any sense.”

He stressed that he has faith that the culprits would face justice after the investigation is over.

“The king has stressed that everybody involved will be brought to justice. And I have faith in that. This will happen. Otherwise Saudi wouldn’t have started an internal investigation,” he said.

Asked by CNN if he was placing his faith in the king, Salah replied: “Yes.”

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