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November 18, 2011

Reporter Asks a Good Question, Gets Suspended from National Press Club

Please Be Nice to Prince Turki al-Feisal (

The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. has suspended Sam Husseini for asking some tough questions of a Saudi Prince.

Husseini tells his story here.

The two-week suspension comes after Husseini challenged Prince Turki al-Faisal al-Sa'ud of Saudi Arabia about the legitimacy of his regime. Husseini may have been a bit rough around the edges in his challenge of Prince Turki al-Faisal, but the prince does represent one of the most autocratic regimes in the world.

Husseini asked questions that reporters in Saudi Arabia dare not ask. He asked about the treatment of women, the torture of dissidents, the Saudi regime's role in suppressing the uprising in Bahrain, and its effort to stop the uprising in Egypt. (By the way, numerous reports indicate Saudi Arabia is supporting Islamists in their bid for power in Egypt.)

Husseini asked questions Faisal would never hear back home. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah recently imposed a law under which "authorities can also ban a writer for life from contributing to any media organisation" that reports "anything that contradicts the strict Islamic Sharia law or serves 'foreign interests and undermines national security.'"

Isn't a good thing to challenge a prince that represents such a regime?

Snapshots readers can learn more about Husseini's suspension here and watch the video on Youtube below the jump. It's worth watching.

The prince's response to Husseini's is somewhat evasive. The prince says Saudi Arabia is a legitimate country.

Fine. But Husseini asked about the legitimacy of the regime Faisal represents, not of Saudi Arabia as a country.

To be fair, Faisal did address the issue of women's rights in a pretty direct manner. People may not like the answer he gave, but he did answer the question. Faisal did not respond to Husseini's challenge about the torture of dissidents in Saudi Arabia, nor did he respond to Husseini's challenges about its policies in Bahrain and Egypt.

Another part of Faisal's response -- that Saudi Arabia provides a lot of aid to international agencies, is very interesting and worth following up on. In his blog entry about his suspension, Husseini writes:

I think his [Faisal's] response opens the door to a lot more serious reporting. For example, Turki's response that Saudi Arabia gets legitimacy because of its aid programs is an interesting notion. Is he arguing that by giving aid to other countries and to international organizations that the Saudi regime has somehow purchased legitimacy, and perhaps immunity from criticism, that it would otherwise not have received? This is worth journalists and independent organizations pursuing.

Just not in Saudi Arabia. And apparently not in the National Press Club.

Again, you can watch the video below the jump.

Posted by dvz at November 18, 2011 04:55 PM


I was there and Husseini was suspended for being disrespectful and continuing to ask questions when it was al-Faisal's turn to answer the question. I am an avid follower of CAMERA but this is taken out of context.

Posted by: Elianna at November 22, 2011 02:24 PM

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