Mohammed al-Ajami – Still in prison for writing and reading a poem

al-ajamiMany of us take for granted our rights to freedom of expression. There are places in this world where a simple act such as writing a poem will separate you from your family and land you in prison. Such is a place is Qatar the owners of Aljazeera News and Aljazeera America. Mohammed al-Ajami, first sentenced to life, is now serving 15 years for writing and reading a poem.

The Poem

Mohammed al-Ajami

We are all Tunisians (Tunisian Jasmine)

Mr. Prime Minister Mohamed al-Ghannoushi

You don’t hold constitutional power

We don’t wax nostalgic for Ben Ali or his times

For us that’s past history

The dictatorship of a despotic and oppressive regime

Against which the people have raised their revolutionary voice

We only criticize the disgrace and the horror

And when we praise somebody it’s only because of our personal convictions

Oh revolutionary hail the struggle with the blood of the people

Carve the value of rebellion in the soul of the free

And tell those who are holding their shroud

That every victory bears its ordeals

Ah, when shall it be the turn of that country whose foolish king

Believes he can rely on the American military

Ah, when shall it be the turn of the country whose people are empty bellied

While its government time and again praises the growth of finance?

Ah, when shall it be the turn of the country where you go to sleep a citizen

And you wake up stateless the next morning?

Ah, when shall it be the turn of that repressive and hereditary regime?

Until when shall you remain a slave to selfishness?

Until when shall the people remain unaware of its value

And fail to choose its own government?

Enough with tyrannical regimes!

Tell the one who torment his people

That tomorrow someone else will take his place

He should not rest assured that the country belongs to him or his offspring

Because the country belongs to the people and so does glory

Join your voices in a chorus for a single destiny

We are all Tunisian in the face of repression

Governments and Arab governments

Are all- without exception

A gang of thieves.

And there is a question that rings obsessively in the minds of those who wonder

But shall never be answered by the official sources:

If we import all kinds of things from the West

Why can’t we import freedom and the rule of law?

What You Can Do

 You can show your support for the poet by calling the embassy in Washington D.C. and leave a message at  (202) 274-1600 (press 1 four times to leave a message with the ambassador’s office).  For those outside the United States please contact the embassy in your nation. It is not too late to contact elected officials in your country to seek support for the poet.

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