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Saudi-owned paper defends decision to not allow ‘Post’ reporter entry to country
By Ariel Ben Solomon
02/04/2014
Al-Hayat columnist says kingdom was right in denying entry to representative from “extremist, racist right-wing Israeli newspaper.”
 
A columnist for the Saudi owned paper Al-Hayat defended the decision to not allow a representative from an “extremist, racist right-wing Israeli newspaper” to enter the kingdom.

Last week, Riyadh denied a visa to Michael Wilner, The Jerusalem Post’s Washington bureau chief.

Wilner was the only journalist denied access to the president’s trip, despite firmly-worded requests from US National Security Adviser Susan Rice and assistant to the president Tony Blinken to Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir.

Wilner, a Jewish American, works for the Israeli English-language newspaper, but does not hold Israeli citizenship and has never lived in the Jewish state.

“The Saudi stance is not going to change” and the Saudi king “will not accept in his country a representative of an extremist, racist right-wing Israeli newspaper,” wrote Jihad El-Khazen, a columnist for the pan-Arab London-based daily.

Regarding the rights of women and minorities, “[President Barack] Obama cannot say what Saudi Arabia should do regarding its internal affairs” and “King Abdullah does not tell the US to give illegal immigrants American citizenship.”

However, Obama came to deal with Iran, Syria and the peace process, implying that these issues are a distraction.

Khazen, formerly the editor of one of Al-Hayat’s main competitors, the London based pan-Arab Saudi backed newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, regularly criticizes Israel and its supporters.

In an article published in Al-Hayat and later on Al-Arabiya’s website in July 2011, Khazen wrote: “Some Jews around the world refuse to believe that Israel has become the world’s new Nazi state, and a racist and apartheid state.”

Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, has been a frequent target of Khazen over the years.

Pipes told the Post: “Jihad Khazen has, by my perhaps incomplete count, attacked me 74 times in the past 12 years, or once every two months, distorting my words, demeaning my reputation and potentially fomenting violence against me, just because I am pro-America and pro-strong relations with Israel.”

“He is among the most foul of writers I have ever encountered,” he said.

Maya Shwayder contributed to this report.
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