Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience


MIDDLE EAST: In prison for writing about Arab Spring!

January 01, 2013

Repeat with one voice, for one faith:

We are all Tunisia in the face of repressive elites.

We are all Tunisia in the face of repressive elites.

The Arab governments and who rules them are,

without exception, thieves.


MUHAMMAD ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami’s poem titled Tunisian Jasmine allegedly ‘encouraged’ the overthrow of Qatar’s authoritarian rule and also ‘insulted’ the Emir. The poem, posted online in 2010, expresses the poet’s support for the Arab Spring Tunisian uprising against the “repressive elites”. In response, the poet has been sentenced to life and is currently under solitary confinement.

Human rights observers in the Gulf and beyond have criticised the move, urging Qatar to free the poet as his poem is merely a form of peaceful criticism. The sentence, however, is very much in line with tough measures in Gulf states against any form of dissent against their rule. — Haneen Rafi