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The admission of guilt by the Saudi authorities needs to be accompanied by the release of political prisoners

A year ago today, I spoke on the phone to Hatice Cengiz, who introduced herself, with a trembling voice, as the fiancé of my friend Jamal Khashoggi. She was standing outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, extremely concerned that he…
An Indonesian journalist holds a placard during a protest over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in front of the Saudi Arabia embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, October 19, 2018.
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Saudi women's rights activists have been detained for 10 months

  Last week, Loujain al-Hathloul, a prominent Saudi women's rights activist, was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2019.  But Loujain is in jail. She, along with a dozen other women's…
Women walk past a poster of Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, February 12, 2018. © 2018 Reuters
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Superficial reforms leave religious minorities behind—and that's dangerous

After generating some positive press earlier this summer by lifting the ban on women driving, Saudi Arabia is once more the target of reproach. In August, the country’s notorious terrorism court sought the death penalty against Israa al…
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The London summit this week could kick-start the revival of the stalled reform process in the region – but won’t if human rights and the rule of law stay off the agenda

  Western Balkan and European Union leaders meet in London this week for a summit that could be a chance to revive stalled reforms and focus attention on critical issues. Unfortunately, there is every chance it will turn out to be full of hot…
Migrants are seen in front of a dorm destroyed during Bosnian 1992-1995 war, in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina May 11, 2018.
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It’s not easy to be an investigative journalist in the Western Balkans. Besides the inherent challenges of the job, reporters can face physical attacks, intimidation, even death threats. Reporting an attack to the authorities rarely brings justice.…
A cartoon in Serbian Blic satirizing Olja Bećković’s weekly TV show Utisak Nedelje
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Iran’s judiciary claims it has no political prisoners. Human Rights Watch set out to prove them wrong. Researcher Faraz Sanei speaks with Amy Braunschweiger about the new Human Rights Watch report, who Iran is persecuting and why, and if President Hassan…
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Saudi Arabia's new terrorism law might look like a step forward, if only because it's written down. Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries with no written criminal penal code, and the penal regulations that authorities have issued are so vague that…
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The Stoic philosopher Epictetus warned of the dangers of casually bad-mouthing the ruler in ancient Rome: “A soldier, dressed like a civilian, sits down by your side, and begins to speak ill of Caesar, and then you too, just as though you had received…
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Saudi Arabia's deputy foreign minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, last year hailed an agreement to establish a centre for inter-religious dialogue in Vienna, stating it would "work for establishing peace and justice and prevent misuse of religion for…
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Sectarianism in the Muslim world is dividing people who have lived together for centuries.

The last month hasn't been a good one for religious tolerance. As Egypt teetered on the edge of chaos following the military's ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, unknown assailants killed a Coptic Christian priest in Sinai and Muslim extremists…
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  With Bosnia’s aspirations to EU and NATO membership, it is only natural that it sometimes looks to Europe and the US as a model. But when it comes to combating terrorism, the country seems to be learning the wrong lessons – emphasizing national…
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On March 11, 2011, Saudi Arabian activists called for a "Day of Rage" wishing to bring the rising tide of protest to the kingdom. Only one person showed up. But underneath the quiet surface, some things have changed in Saudi Arabia and dissent is brewing…
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A protest march Tuesday is a test of strength for a movement under siege

At 80 years of age, Ebrahim Yazdi has the distinction of being Iran’s oldest political prisoner. Yazdi was one of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s closest confidants, accompanied him during his triumphant return to Tehran in February 1979, and briefly served…
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Saudi authorities react to the ‘Arab Spring' by crushing dissent

Entrenched Arab governments in Jordan, Algeria and even Syria and Yemen reacted to the Arab Spring with a mixture of political concessions and repression. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, offered none of the former while intensifying its crackdown on…
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Is one man's will strong enough to deliver change in Saudi Arabia?

As King Abdullah al-Saud recovers from his recent surgery in the U.S., his subjects in Saudi Arabia may be wondering what their future holds. The 86-year-old monarch has long branded himself an advocate for reform in the conservative kingdom, saying he…
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(New York) - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in New York this week to attend a UN non-proliferation conference, prompting a fresh round of worrying speculation over the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran. The focus on that potential danger should not…