Many 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.
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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