An online petition has collected more than 1,000 signatures to honor murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi by renaming the street in Washington, D.C. where the Saudi embassy is located after him.
The embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is located in the heart of the U.S. capital, a couple of miles from the White House at 601 New Hampshire Avenue N.W. If the petitioners succeed, the street name would be changed to Jamal Khashoggi Way.
Khashoggi was brutally killed earlier this month at a Saudi consular office in Istanbul, Turkey. The petitioners in Washington said the point of the name change is not only to honor Khashoggi, but to send a pointed message to the Saudi government.
Having to work each day in a building located on a street named after Khashoggi would “be a daily reminder to Saudi officials that such behavior is totally unacceptable,” the authors of the petition, Michael Werz and Gary Schmitt, wrote on the change.org website.
The name change would also represent “an expression of Washington’s unstinting support for freedom of the press,” their petition said.
After 2,000 signatures have been collected, the document will be sent to the city officials in Washington. Typically, a person can have a public street or building named after them in the city only after they have been deceased for two years or more.
“Given the principles at stake, we urge Mayor Muriel Bowser and the D.C. Council to make an exception in this case,” the petition says.
The authors of the effort are officials at two Washington, D.C. area think tanks.
Werz is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. (ThinkProgress is an independent news organization housed within CAP.) Schmitt is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
Their organizations represent opposite sides of the political spectrum but they said the joint effort — which they are carrying out independently and not in affiliation with their respective think tanks — transcends partisan politics.
“It’s bipartisan in nature and I think that’s a healthy thing,” Schmitt told ThinkProgress. “This is one of those instances where you would like to see overarching principles matter more than partisan politics.”
“This was really one of the more ham-handed operations that I’ve ever seen. And that tells me that there is a whole lot of hubris and that they really weren’t really concerned with being caught,” Schmitt said.
“We thought it would be good to have the embassy’s address renamed as a constant reminder to Saudi officials but also to ourselves that press freedom is non-negotiable,” Werz added.
It took 17 days for Saudi Arabia to confirm the death of Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post and outspoken critic of the government.
Saudi officials claimed that this death was the result of “a fist fight” that broke out at the consulate in Turkey. The Turkish government had said Khashoggi’s killing was premeditated and “savagely planned.”
On Thursday, after weeks of denials, Saudi Arabia finally admitted that the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate had been a premeditated plan.