The street in front of the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington has been named after Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident journalist who was murdered in Istanbul in 2018.
On Wednesday, the US capital’s local government changed signs on one block in front of the embassy to read “Jamal Khashoggi Way”.
A team of Saudi operatives murdered Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist, who was critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.
The street will serve as “a constant reminder, a memorial to Jamal Khashoggi’s memory that cannot be covered up,” said Phil Mendelson, President of the District of Columbia Council, which voted unanimously to rename the stretch of New Hampshire Avenue.
During the presidential election campaign, US President Joe Biden emerged as an outspoken critic of bin Salman, who according to US intelligence authorized the killing.
Biden said during a Democratic debate back then that he would make Saudi Arabia “the pariah they are” if he were elected.
On Tuesday, however, the White House announced that Biden would travel next month to Saudi Arabia and meet with the royal.
Tawakkol Karman, a Yemeni activist and writer who won the Nobel Peace Prize, said at the ceremony held for changing the street’s name that the upcoming visit “means that Biden has abandoned his commitment to support human rights around the world.”
Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of Democracy for the Arab World Now, a rights group founded by Khashoggi, denounced Biden’s “shameless capitulation.”
In an open letter last Thursday, a coalition of rights groups called on the US president not to go ahead with the trip in the absence of human rights commitments by Riyadh, warning it could encourage “further violations.”