Qatar today sentenced Mohamed Bin Rashid Al-Deeb to life in prison .. for writing a poem. The poem, in Arabic, is said to praise the Arab Spring, drawing comparisons to other countries living in repression and under dictatorship.
According to Qatari journalist Abdulla Al Athbah, Al-Deeb's poem was seen as insulting to the Qatari Amir [Ruler], and called for overthrowing his rule.
He tweets [ar]:
محكمة “الدرجة الأولى” في #قطر تصدر حكمها بالسجن المؤبد بحق محمد بن راشد الذيب بعد قصائد اعتبرتها تطاولا على الذات الأميرية وتدعو لقلب الحكم
@A_AlAthbah: The First Instance Court in Qatar sentences Mohamed Bin Rashid Al-Deeb to life in prison for poems it considered insulting to the Amir and which called for over-throwing his rule.
On Lockerz, Maysaa Alamoudi shares a photograph of a copy of one of his poems, that allegedly landed the poet into trouble with the law.
Zaid Benjamin posts the verdict in the case:
@zaidbenjamin: Picture: The verdict in the case of Mohamed Bin al-Deeb al-Ajmi who was sentenced to life in prison in #Qatar today pic.twitter.com/VDvyde9R
In Arabic, the hashtag #محمد_بن_الذيب_مؤبد which translates to Life Imprisonment for Mohamed Al-Deeb soon followed. Under the hashtag netizens from across the Arab world decried the verdict, which they say is a blow to freedom of expression.
Mofareg Alshuya, from Saudi Arabia, says the verdict was too strict. He tweets [ar]:
حكم على #محمد_بن_الذيب_مؤبد ..كنت متوقعاً أن يُحكم عليه لكن بهذا الحكم ولأجل قصيدة…في الحقيقة لم يخطر الحكم هذا على تفكير أكثر المتشائمين.
@MofarehAlshuyah: I was expecting that he would be sentenced but with this sentence and for a poem .. In reality, this verdict did not even cross the minds of the most pessimistic people
Also from Saudi Arabia, Seba Alhamad says:
بلد يسجن خوفا من شاعر و اخر خوفا من رسام كاركتير كم هي هشة امبراطوريات الاسلحة امام القلم
@SebaHmd: A country which jails its people out of fear from a poet and another jails it people out of fear from a cartoonist. How fragile are those empires of weapons in front of the pen
And Egyptian Menna comments:
@TheMiinz: Life Sentence for Mohamed Ben ElZeeb for a poem about Arab Spring and Qatari Emir. The Arabs are going nowhere. #Qatar
Omani OmanLover suggests airing the appeal to the verdict, when it happens – live – on Qatar's Al Jazeera, which comes under constant criticism for not covering negative stories on Qatar.
However, Emad Silawi calls on people to wait for the verdict:
الى كل المغردين في هذا الموضوع اقول ان قطر دولة قانون وممكن يستأنف الحكم وممكن يطلع عفو أميري ولا تصيدون في الماء العكر
@emadsilawi: To all those tweeting about this topic I have to say that Qatar is a country of law and this verdict can be appealed or he could get a pardon from the Amir
And Ahmed Al Rashdii asks them to mind their own business:
ينتقدون قطر ب حكم #محمد_بن_الذيب_مؤبد ويصمتون عما يحدث في اوطانهم . البعض اختفى والبعض سحبت جنسيته والبعض سجن . اين انتم من احرار اوطانكم ؟!
@ahmed_alrashdii: They criticise Qatar for Mohamed Bin Al-Deeb's verdict and shut up when it comes to what is happening in their own countries, where some have disappeared, others have had their nationalities withdrawn and many are in prison. Where are you from the freedom fighters in your own countries?