Document shows how Saudi government instructed local journalists to criticise Malaysia-hosted summit, as well as targeting media outlets in countries including Pakistan and Jordan
By David Hearst , Ragip Soylu
Published date: 26 February 2020
Saudi Arabia was so spooked by the prospect of major Muslim nations convening at the Kuala Lumpur Summit in December, outside the control of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which it chairs, that it prepared a media campaign to belittle its importance, Middle East Eye can reveal.
The Saudi Ministry of Media compiled a series of messages which local media organisations and commentators were “instructed” to issue, as well as targeting newspapers, websites and television channels in countries including Pakistan, Indonesia and several Arab states.
According to a ministry document obtained by MEE, the aims of the campaign were: to highlight the role of the OIC in serving the causes of the Islamic Ummah; to belittle the Malaysia summit; and to highlight the aid Saudi has given to the Islamic world, especially Palestine.
The Malaysia summit on 19 December was attended by the leaders of Iran, Turkey and Qatar, and delegates from 56 countries.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, the head of the world’s second largest Muslim-majority nation, was a notable absentee, after strenuous Saudi efforts were made to stop him from attending.
In February last year the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced a $20bn package of investment in Pakistan.
Khan bowed to the pressure, sending his foreign minister in his place, but afterwards regretted his decision.