WWE under pressure to cancel Saudi Arabia show over missing journalist
Jamal Khashoggi has been missing since October 2nd
WWE is being urged to reconsider holding an event in Saudi Arabia, following the disappearance of a Saudi journalist who had been critical of the country’s government.
In April, WWE held The Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia. It was the first part of a decade-long partnership between WWE and the Saudi General Sports Authority.
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ستشاهدون كل الأبطال لـ10 سنوات في السعودية 🇸🇦💪 pic.twitter.com/d8JecCu1EV
— تركي آل الشيخ (@Turki_alalshikh) February 28, 2018
A second show, Crown Jewel, is due to take place on November 2nd – but now many are calling for the show to be cancelled following Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappearance in Turkey.
Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was previously general manager and editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel, and has been a very high-profile critic of country’s Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman and King, Salman of Saudi Arabia.
He fled the country in September 2017, and has not been since after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd.
BBC News report that a Turkish security source has video and audio proving Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told BBC News that he was worried disappearances like this were becoming the “new normal”.
The WWE’s Crown Jewel show is so much worse than doing business in Saudia Arabia. KSA isn’t paying a half billion+ just to see the Undertaker. These shows exist to shill for the Saudi government and the Crown Prince’s “modernization drive.” It’s literally a paid advertisement.
— Benjamin Morris (@skepticalsports) October 12, 2018
Several US Senators have also urged WWE to rethink the event, with Sen. Chris Murphy telling Independent Journal Review: "This is a brazen assault on the freedom of the press and a slap in the face to the United States, if this murder occurred as it seems it did."
WWE released a statement saying they are “currently monitoring the situation.”
April’s Greatest Royal Rumble was generally badly received by wrestling fans for being little more than a filler show - but the event was marred with more serious controversy from further afield.
None of the company’s female performers were allowed appear, due to the limited rights for women in Saudi Arabia – this was particularly at odds with the WWE’s current PR push for their women’s division.
A promotional video shown during the event did feature female wrestlers, however, for which the Saudi General Sports Authority felt the need to release an apology, calling it “incident material”.
I hate that #WWE promotes women w/ #Evolution, then going off to Saudi Arabia the following week. For rampant human rights abuses against women, to the extent that the women's roster cannot event ATTEND, it's just ludicrous. Add this newest horrific event, it's unsupportable. /1
— Amy O (@Phoenixnjpw) October 12, 2018
Female fans were also only allowed to attend if they were accompanied by a male guardian.
Sami Zayn, a male wrestler of Syrian descent, also did not appear, with many presuming it was due to strained relations between Saudi Arabia and Syrian - though no official reason was given.