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Crowning of a King > Pardoning of a Journalist

The Pardoning

In what could be seen as a great leap forward for press freedom, Saudi King Abdulla royally pardoned journalist Rosanna al-Yami, who was sentenced to receive 60 lashes and had a two-year travel ban placed on her after reporting on a television show about a man's sex life, a taboo subject in the country.

Al-Yami was responsible for editing and producing a television show broadcast over the Lebanese Broadcast Corporation(LBC) called A Thick Red Line. The program tackles taboo subjects all over the Middle East, but the episode in question created a huge amount of backlash.

Arab Woman

Female Saudi journalists still have it hardest in the country. Obtained from el_en_houston on Flickr. The image is under a Creative Commons license.

The Saudi offices of LBC were shut down after the airing of the episode, even though the station is partly owned by a Saudi prince. This is not uncommon, as Al-Jazeera's Saudi office has been shut down before as well for being critical of the Saudi government.

After news of the court's ruling became public knowledge and was reported on worldwide, King Abdulla royally pardoned Al-Yami from both the lashing and the two-year travel ban that was placed on her.

While the king's pardon shook up the conservative nation, it was an isolated incident. It is not a true indication of whether or not the country's strict laws and rulings will be adapted any time soon, but it is a move in the right direction.

By taking small steps at a time, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will move toward being a place where journalists can uncover truths and report on taboo matters more freely. Besides, just because they're not being reported on doesn't mean they're not happening.

Crowning of a King > Pardoning of a Journalist