Advertisement Close

Khashoggi’s Sacrifice Changed Course of Arab History, Says Tribute Painter

posted on: Nov 10, 2018

Khashoggi’s Sacrifice Changed Course of Arab History, Says Tribute Painter


In order to commemorate slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, American artist Asiye Allman painted a tribute portrait. Allman, who also wrote a poem to express her deepest condolences following his shocking death, hopes to communicate the pain caused by the horrific murder.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed inside the Consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul after he went there to obtain documents for his forthcoming marriage.

Allman works out of a studio in Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet. She settled in the bustling city 40 years ago. Allman avidly follows social and political developments in the Muslim world. Previously, she unveiled paintings that demonstrated her reaction to the July 15 coup attempt that shook Turkey two years ago.

Speaking exclusively to Yeni Şafak, Allman detailed the story behind the stunning portrait and moving poem she penned in honor of Jamal Khashoggi:

When Jamal was brutally murdered on Oct. 2 at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, I was quietly painting images of Islamic beauty in my studio in Sultanahmet, near Hagia Sophia, in Istanbul. Later that evening, returning to my home in Ümraniye, I read a piece of news, via Yeni Şafak, that I would continue to follow in the upcoming days.

In the immediate days that followed, it became apparent Jamal had been killed somehow. My first thoughts went to his pending marriage to Hatice, as I could feel the deep love Jamal had for her. His deep love and future commitment to Hatice led him to take risks. But, Jamal had suffered from loneliness after his self- imposed exile in the United States. Jamal had given up living in his country with his family because of his deep commitment to Saudi Arabia and his need for freedom of expression for all Saudis. Jamal’s pain must have been very intense during his last year. Perhaps, only balanced in some parts, by the results of his actions as an international journalist on the world stage. Jamal made a sacrifice few men have the courage to achieve.

As the weeks followed, the details of Jamal’s death were slowly revealed with great caution by the Turkish government. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as president, knew quite well that brother Jamal had been a great friend and admirer of Turkey. Turkey had a Muslim moral responsibility to uncover the full truth. Turkey also had a global responsibility to uncover the full truth.

Like most of the world, I have had nightmares about the brutality of Jamal’s death. Without a doubt, the story that his fingers were severed while alive had the most horrible impact on my moral consciousness. I certainly pray for Jamal that this part of the story is untrue. Both journalists and artists depend on their fingers to execute their daily work. It is a visual image lodged in my memory until I die.

I had never heard of Jamal before his brutal death. But, as I learned his life in Washington DC, I recognized many of the names of think tanks from my own days doing human rights work during the Feb. 28 process focused on Women and Democracy in Islam. I could tell he was important and well-respected in the political halls of my country, as well as Turkey.

I have no doubt that Turkey, particularly Erdoğan, will pursue the truth, until all the facts of how he was murdered and who gave the order, are known by the global community. As a painter, I cannot make any contribution to this important process, only pray that Erdoğan will be successful in accomplishing his mission.

But, as a painter, I can make a tribute to Jamal’s legacy. I can try to bring out the beauty of

Jamal’s humanity and the meaning of his death for future generations. I have a weakness that I will always see the glass of water as full, no matter how empty it is. In this context, I have ignored the horror of his brutal death.

As the 40th day of his death approaches, I have painted my painting for Jamal: “White Roses for Jamal”. Jamal is enclosed in a case by two white roses. A white rose is a symbol of purity and faith, which he possessed in full abundance. The hearts around his face symbolize his love for his faith of Islam. The yellow outside the white roses symbolizes the light of heaven, which the birds are carrying his soul to heaven. On the bottom, I have put the symbol of Saudi Arabia.

Jamal loved his country!

I have no political influence or power. I am not a journalist. I am a simple Muslim woman and painter, who has been deeply moved by the spiritual meaning of Jamal’s life and death. With my painting, I hope Allah has given me the strength to communicate my feelings to others.

White Rose Prayers for Jamal

My Muslim brother Jamal:

Without doubt,

you are now in heaven

with Allah

as a guest of honor

sitting at a feast table

with Prophet Muhammed

and Prophet Abraham

at each side.

Without doubt,

you are being served by

Asiye, wife of Pharaoh,

Meryem, mother of Prophet Jesus,

Hatice, wife of Prophet Muhammed, and

Fatma, daughter of Prophet Muhammed.

This special feast table

is decorated

with white roses

in full abundance.

Your sacrifice has changed

the course of Arab history

-time will tell the details.

You represent the

hopes and dreams

of your Arab brothers, sisters,

elders and children

for a better life

with freedom of expression.

Your life resembles

in many deep ways

Martin Luther King, Jr.

of America.

King had a dream

that one day

freedom would ring

for all blacks

in America.

Likewise, you had a dream

that one day

freedom would ring

for all Arabs

in the Arab world.

The third Monday of January

is a special day

in America

to celebrate

Martin Luther King Jr.’s

legacy for future generations.

October 2nd

will become

a special day

in the Arab world

to celebrate your legacy

Sending white rose prayers

of purity and faith

to you in heaven.

Your Muslim sister Asiye.