|Qatar’s imprisonment of poet is a rights violation: MP||
Iranian MP Abbas Qaeid-Rahmat says that Qatar’s imprisonment of a poet for his criticism of the government shows that the Arab monarchy has no respect for its citizens’ most basic rights, including the right to freedom of expression.
In August 2010, Muhammad Rashid al-Ajami -- a Qatari citizen who uses the nom de plume ibn al-Dheeb in his poetry -- reportedly recited a poem critical of Qatar’s leadership in front of several friends in Cairo, where he was studying Arabic literature at the time. A recording of the recitation was later uploaded to YouTube.
In an interview with the Iranian parliament’s news agency, ICANA, on Tuesday, Qaeid-Rahmat, who is a member of the Majlis Social Committee, said, “A popular political system is never worried about criticism by intellectuals and artists.”
Commenting on the fact that Arab rulers are extremely worried about the effect of the Islamic Awakening in their countries, he stated, “Since the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Bahrain have no legitimacy or popularity in the eyes of their own people, the only remaining option to safeguard their rule from the impact of the Islamic Awakening is to suppress and jail critics,” he added.
“Most of the Persian Gulf Arab states are ruled by subservient regimes and their judicial systems are heavily influenced by Western governments,” he noted.
The 37-year-old Ajami, a father of four, also wrote a controversial poem about the 2010-2011 uprising in Tunisia. “We are all Tunisia in the face of repressive elites,” the poem read.
Ajami was sentenced to life in prison last year, but Qatar’s Court of Appeal reduced the sentence to 15 years following a brief session on Monday. The sentence was heavily criticized by human rights groups.
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