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Qatari Poet’s Sentence Reduced But Not Overturned

By Harriet Staff


We’ve been following the story of Mohammed al-Ajami, the Quatari poet who was sentenced to life in prison for writing a poem insulting the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. While there has been international pressure to release al-Ajami, we recently found out that his sentence has been reduced from a life-sentence to 15 years, but it has not been overturned as many supporters had hoped. From Arabic Literature (in English):

According to Al Jazeera, as the news outlet now appears to be covering the case, al-Ajami ”shouted insults at the courtroom and against the government of the Gulf state as he left the Doha court surrounded by armed security officials[.]“

However, Reuters reported not insults, but that al-Ajami called out, “There is no law for this.”

The 36-year-old al-Ajami– also known as Mohammed Ibn al-Dheeb – was jailed in November 2011 and sentenced a year later to life in prison for “insulting the emir,” Sheikh Hamad al-Thani.

Amnesty International said in October that, “The prosecution’s case against him is reportedly based on a poem he wrote in 2010 criticising Qatar’s emir.” However, it’s widely believed that the real reason behind al-Ajami’s outrageous sentence is his “Jasmine Poem,” which declares that ”we are all Tunisia in the face of the repressive” regimes. (Read a rough translation of the poem.)


According to the BBC, Qatar’s Supreme Court is due to make a final ruling on his sentence within the next 30 days.

Go here to read more. And we’ll continue to follow the story as it develops.

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Posted in Poetry News on Monday, February 25th, 2013 by Harriet Staff.