Qatar: Arab’s uprising supporter jails a poet for life

Muhammad Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami a Qatar citizen was sentenced to life incarceration for a poem entitled “Jasmine” that symbolizes the Tunisian revolt that was the fire starter of the Arab Spring. He praised in his verses the uprising that overthrew four dictators in such a short lapse of time with the money support that was provided by Qatar. However, he also criticized the country’s absolute monarchy by saying: “We are all Tunisia, in the face of the repressive elite.” This open criticism of the emir got him arrested and for the past year he was in solitary confinement waiting for his judgment that was made on Thursday. After a trial that was held behind closed doors, without Ajami’s presence, he escaped the death penalty that normally awaits people who are accused of calling for revolution in Qatar. But the fact that he got jail sentence for life is believed to be “a tremendous miscarriage of justice” according to defense lawyer Nagib al-Naimi. In addition, the lawyer was also barred from making oral arguments during the trial. The sentence outraged many human rights groups including Amnesty international which presents this decision as a sign of hypocrisy by the country. Al jazeera  Qatar has been the main source of information about the Arab Spring it even covered the uprising that  took place last year in neighboring Bahrain which is another Gulf monarchy. In addition, the emir has established himself as a human rights advocate when he went for example to Gaza last month. Double standard seems to be applied in this area since in this country that wishes to bring democracy to others; freedom of expression is tightly controlled. National newspapers and other media practice self-censorship and avoid subjects related to opposing the Emir.

Written by