Bad news Monday from Qatar’s Court of Cassation: Poet Mohamed al-Ajami’s 15-year prison term was upheld as final.
Al-Ajami’s lawyer, Najib al-Naimi, told media outlets that al-Ajami’s only remaining option was to appeal to the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, for clemency.
Al-Naimi told AFP that “I hope the emir will grant him an amnesty.” Reuters reported that the court’s decision had been reached in less than three hours.
Reuters also reported that a cousin of al-Ajami’s said there had been no communication with the new Emir about al-Ajami’s case. “But the Emir knows of the case for sure and has the ability to pardon anyone of Qatar’s sons.”
According to al-Naimi, the poet has been held in solitary confinement for nearly two years.
Al-Ajami was arrested in November 2011 after the YouTube publication of his “Tunisian Jasmine,” a poet that praised Arab uprisings and criticised governments across the region. The case against him was supposedly about a 2010 poem that criticized the emir, although most believe authorities are punishing al-Ajami for his Jasmine poem.
Kareem James Abu Zaid’s free translation of the Jasime Poem, which was read at an event in support of the poet in San Francisco:
Jasmine Revolution Poem
By Mohammad al-Ajami Ibn al-Dhib
Prime Minister, Mohamed al-Ghannouchi:
If we measured your might
it wouldn’t hold a candle
to a constitution.
We shed no tears for Ben Ali,
nor any for his reign.
It was nothing more than a moment
in time for us,
a system of oppression,
an era of autocracy.
Tunisia declared the people’s revolt:
When we lay blame
only the base and vile suffer from it;
and when we praise
we do so with all our hearts.
A revolution was kindled with the blood of the people:
their glory had worn away,
the glory of every living soul.
So, rebel, tell them,
tell them in a shrouded voice, a voice from the grave:
tell them that tragedies precede all victories.
A warning to the country whose ruler is ignorant,
whose ruler deems that power
comes from the American army.
A warning to the country
whose people starve
while the regime boasts of its prosperity.
A warning to the country whose citizens sleep:
one moment you have your rights,
the next they’re taken from you.
A warning to the system—inherited—of oppression.
How long have all of you been slaves
to one man’s selfish predilections?
How long will the people remain
ignorant of their own strength,
while a despot makes decrees and appointments,
the will of the people all but forgotten?
Why is it that a ruler’s decisions are carried out?
They’ll come back to haunt him
in a country willing
to rid itself of coercion.
Let him know, he
who pleases only himself, and does nothing
but vex his own people; let him know
someone else will be seated on that throne,
someone who knows the nation’s not his own,
nor the property of his children.
It belongs to the people, and its glories
are the glories of the people.
They gave their reply, and their voice was one,
and their fate, too, was one.
All of us are Tunisia
in the face of these oppressors.
The Arab regimes and those who rule them
are all, without exception,
without a single exception,
This question that keeps you up at night—
its answer won’t be found
on any of the official channels…
Why, why do these regimes
import everything from the West—
everything but the rule of law, that is,
and everything but freedom?
You can listen to Tunisian Jasmine here: