Saturday, December 01, 2012

Qatari Poet Sentenced To Life For "defamation of the crown prince"

Qatar, a country that apparently supported the Arab Spring in other countries and considers itself a promoter of free speech has proved it is far from being as progressive as it would like the world to believe. Mohammed al-Ajami (aka Ibn al-Dhib), a famous Qatari poet who has spent a year in prison, will spend the rest of his life there for a verse in a poem he wrote that authorities deemed subversive. He was arrested after publication of his "Jasmine poem', which was critical of all governments in the Gulf, not just Qatar:

“we are all Tunisia in the face of the repressive elite."

According to his lawyer Nejib Naimi, al-Ajami was sentenced

“after six hearings, most of them in secret.”


"..incitement against the regime, defamation of the crown prince, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and attacking the constitution."

Naimi intends on appealing the charges since al-Ajami should have only received five years max. Life in prison is only applicable with attempted coups.

Al Arabiya criticized Al Jazeera for not reporting the news about the sentencing, but they're headquartered in Doha, after all.

Philip Luther of Amnesty International was quick to condemn the sentence:

“It is deplorable that Qatar, which likes to paint itself internationally as a country that promotes freedom of expression, is indulging in what appears to be such a flagrant abuse of that right.”
It's foolish to think that Arab/Muslim nations will easily embrace the inherent freedoms that are part and parcel of a democracy, if they feel it threatens their sovereignty. It's just not going to happen. So al-Ajami could spend his life in jail for a few critical words.  How pathetic is that?

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