Qatari poet gets life sentence in secret trial

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Qatari poet was sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday on charges of insulting the emir of the small Gulf state in a trial shrouded in secrecy.

Mohammad Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami was arrested on 16 November 2011 on charges of “insulting” the emir of Qatar and “inciting to overthrow the ruling system,” AFP reported.

Ibn al-Dheeb’s lawyer, Nagib al-Naimi, confirmed the court’s sentence, and indicated that he would appeal the verdict. Al-Naimi said his client has been jailed in solitary confinement for almost a year during which he has not seen his family.

According to activists, the evidence used by the prosecution against Ibn al-Dheeb centered on his “Jasmine poem,” written in 2010 in support of the Tunisian uprising.

The insult charges appear to be based on the verse: "we are all Tunisia in the face of the repressive" regimes. The poem can be heard below:

A document allegedly obtained from the court detailing Ibn al-Dheeb’s sentence was circulating online on Thursday, sparking outrage from advocates.

Amnesty also denounced irregularities in Ibn al-Dheeb’s trial, since court sessions were reportedly “held in secret.”

Al-Naimi was reportedly barred from attending one of the court sessions, and had to provide a written defense, Amnesty reported.

Ibn al-Dheeb’s ruling stands in stark contrast to Qatari ruler Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani public advocacy for freedom of expression. He set up the Doha Centre for Media Freedom in to promote press freedom in 2008.

But freedom of expression is strictly controlled in the oil-rich nation, which is a close ally of the United States.

"Inciting to overthrow the regime" is a charge punishable by death in Qatar, while "insulting the emir" carries a five-year prison sentence, the watchdogs said.

Human Rights Watch denounced Ibn al-Dheeb’s incarceration as “further evidence of Qatar's double standard on freedom of expression."

(Al-Akhbar, AFP, Reuters)

Comments

"we are all Tunisia in the face of the repressive" regimes.

By arresting Muhammad they have just admitted that they are an oppressive regime lol. Laughable, that they hypocrytically try and show the world that they are the ambassadors of freedom and free speech. This will hopefully be another good reason why they should be threatened with having the world cup taken away. The World cup is not just about football. At the moment it is all about 'no racism in football'. Therefore, it should not be held in a country where the sponsor scheme amounts to modern day slavery and therefore based on race. A place where there is clear racism and workers who live in terrible conditions and get paid next to nothing (if they get paid). It is of no fault that these people are born poor or disadvantaged. Neither does it give anyone an excuse to further their suffering and to take advantage. Personally, Its similitude can only be that of someone that was born in an abusive upbringing because they were poor. They finally escape and migrate to a place where they will still get abused but paid more and so that makes it perfectly fine. At the same time, the rich locals get richer because he has forgotton where he came from and where he is going. When life was simpler and traditions were strongly held onto. Now, modernism has slowly destroyed Qatari family life and the life of the future generations. Where divorce rates are high and will only get higher. Where money and greed has overtaken respect and dignity. Don't get me wrong there are some real gems in the older generation. But much like Qatar's old pearl industry, this is quickly dissapearing.

Ps. Remember when the tables were turned and the Qataris used to travel to India for their supplies and the currency in Qatar was the Indian rupee and still most of the Qatari food is based on Indian cuisine. How did they treat you... or have you forgotton. Ask your elders. Free Muhammad and compensate him. You know he is imprisoned because he desserted Qatar for Dubai.

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