Saudi Arabian Twitter users have called for a boycott of Amazon due to The Washington Post‘s ongoing coverage of the murder of Saudi exile, U.S. resident, and Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi on Oct. 2. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos purchased The Post in 2013.
The hashtag #BoycottAmazon—in both English and Arabic—which comprises thousands of tweets, reached enough of a fever pitch to become a trending topic on Twitter in Saudi Arabia for several hours on Nov. 4, with a new wave appearing on Nov. 5.
The tweets don’t typically mention Khashoggi, and some omit The Post entirely. Rather, they state that Amazon has harmed Saudi Arabia through “lies” and “fake news.” Some Twitter users attached screen captures snapped as they deleted their Amazon accounts.
None of the posters acknowledge that the Saudi Arabian government has stipulated that Khashoggi was killed with premeditation by members of its government. Eighteen people have been detained so far in the country regarding the case, and five officials have been fired.
Bezos hasn’t yet spoken out about the Khashoggi killing in particular, nor in support of his newspaper’s reporting. The dotcom exec tends to stay in the background at The Post. The paper frequently publishes articles critical of Amazon or that involve anonymous sources within the company.
Bezos met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a secret visit to the Seattle area by the prince in March 2018. Prince Mohammed met with Bezos, and past and present CEOs of Microsoft, Bill Gates and Satya Nadella. The Saudi government has invested tens of billions of dollars with venture capital funds and directly into companies including Uber, with plans to invest far more.
Nadella said in mid-October that what was already likely to have been a political assassination was a “real step back.” The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Nov. 1 suspended a $5 million grant-awarding partnership with a Saudi charity chaired by the prince with the statement: “Jamal Khashoggi’s abduction and murder is extremely troubling.”
The Post‘s coverage included an op-ed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Nov. 2, who demanded to know who gave the order to kill the journalist, and where his body lies. Turkey has aggressively led the investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance and confirmation of his assassination in the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul.