Tag Archives: Mohammed al-Ajami

Mohammed al-Ajami Still in Prison

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?

Free Mohammed al-ajami

Mohammed Al Ajami reading at table pic

The New Year has arrived and Poet Mohammed al-ajami remains in a Qatar prison. We have written extensively at the FCR on his plight and encourage you to engage in activism to encourage Qatar to release the poet from his harsh sentence. You can read more on his plight at Pen America at this link:

http://www.pen.org/defending-writers/mohammed-al-ajami

 

The Plight of Mohammed al-Ajami

al-ajamiOver the last few years we have written about the plight of Mohammed al-Ajami, a poet who is serving a sentence of 15 years in Qatar for writing and reading a poem that was offensive to the Emir. He was initially sentenced to a life sentence. As reports of his situation fade we remain hopeful for his release. 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.

mohammadalajami

We are hopeful the regular readers of this blog will take some action. You can call the Qatar embassy and leave a message at (202) 274-1600 (press 1 four times to leave a message with the ambassador’s office).  Those in other nations should contact the Qatar embassy in their nation.  Over at Code Pink there is a link to send a letter to the embassy and additional information on Mohammed al-Ajami http://codepink.salsalabs.com/o/424/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=7122 On September 25th it was reported his latest appeal was denied  http://qatarwatch.net/wp/news/qatar-court-upholds-poet-mohammed-al-ajamis-sentence/

Step up and don’t forget Mohammed al-Ajami

 
 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?

 

Qatar in the News – Mohammed al-Ajami still in Prison

Qatar in the News

emir.

Qatar plans $11B oil field redevelopment

Qatar sees no worrying rise in concentration of bank lending

Qatar Seeks to Be Global Hub for Culture

Qatar is doing quite nicely in the world. They own cable news networks, spend billions of dollars, reassure investors and of course now want to be a global hub for culture. The city of Philadelphia welcomed their airline with glee.

And there is this……

Poet Mohammed Al-Ajmai

Poet Mohammed Al-Ajmai

The poet is serving a 15 year sentence for writing and reading a poem the Emir was affronted by. Embassies have been contacted, legislators have been contacted, even former Vice-President Al Gore has failed to act, (he sold his cable network to Qatar.) This powerful economic force we know as Qatar is afraid of a poet writing and reading a poem.  A global hub for culture? Over 15,000 people have signed a petition for his release. Still he sits in jail. I encourage you to sign the petition,   (http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=7041 , a few more signatures may help. More importantly we cannot forget the poet.

A visit to the poet was prevented: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/qatar-authorities-thwart-pen-prison-visit-with-al-ajami-229125471.html

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?
.
.
g emil reutter– g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA)  http://gereutter.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

Qatar Flies Into The City of Liberty As Poet Rots In Jail

mohammed-al-ajamiQatar Airlines is now flying into Philadelphia and all the local politicians, or it seems, are excited to have them here. I am aware of the economic impact of such an add on at the airport, however, there is a poet, Mohammed al-Ajami who was sentenced to life in prison for writing a poem. The sentence was later reduced to 15 years. Mohammed al-Ajami,  a poet, who wrote a poem, is serving 15 years for doing so. The question: Will the city known as the cradle of liberty do nothing for a few Qatar bucks?  In the past we have contacted Pa. Senators Casey and Toomey and nothing was accomplished. Possibly contacting Philadelphia City Council or the Mayor’s office would help. Bucks over liberty, a song that never grows old.

The offending poem appears below, yes this poem deemed so offensive to the Emir that a man sits in a cell with no apparent hope of release.

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?

 

– g emil reutter

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.

Our Previous Posts:

https://foxchasereview.wordpress.com/2013/11/10/no-mercy-for-qatari-poet/

http://foxchasereview.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/senator-casey-weighs-in-on-mohammed-al-ajami/ 

http://foxchasereview.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/senator-toomey-reaches-

https://foxchasereview.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/hes-still-in-prison-for-writing-a-poem/

https://foxchasereview.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/robes-in-a-bunch-sends-poet-to-prision-for-life/

 

 

.

The Individual – Combating the Norm

Ryerss Vintage Book Sale courtesy of Ryerss Museum and Library

In a society that continues to stress conformity, as opposed to individuality, the arts remain a bastion for individual accomplishment despite efforts to bring everyone in line with a certain school of writing or creativity. Individual thought spurs new ideas, challenges the status quo, questions authority and the flavor of the day. The mimeograph revolution in poetry of the 1960s, to the photocopy age of the 70s and 80s, and the current electronic revolution of the later part of the last century into this have shown poets are resourceful in combating the control of corporate and university publishers in providing poetry to the people. While there are some who condemn the wide range of poetry available today on the internet, one sobering fact remains, poets will not permit the individual nature of the art to be trampled upon.

andrew_wyeth courtesy of andrewwyeth websiteCharles Bukowski

A fine example of an individual remaining true to his art is found in the visual arts, in the person of Andrew Wyeth. Despite the post modernist movement, Wyeth stayed true to himself in his creative portraits and landscapes. Perhaps a lesson he learned from his father, a great illustrator, who attempted to blend into the French modernist movement. Then there is the poet Charles Bukowski, labeled as “the Poet Laureate of the low life.” A sometimes crude, harsh man, Bukowski could also be a gentle poet always writing in what is now known as the Meat Poetry style. He believed if the “big” magazines wouldn’t publish you, go to the “little ones.” Get your work out there for others to read. Today his philosophy lives on through the Outlaw Poets and he continues even in death to outsell the acclaimed poets of his generation.

federico_garcia_lorca1mohammed al-ajamiZhu Yufu

.

There is a reason dictators of the right and left imprison writers and artists. The written word and visual arts stimulate independent thought, challenge the senses, and encourage true diversity. The arts resist conformity. If one wants to write with passion or paint the common man or landscape, do it. If one wants to write about or paint obscure objects, do it. If a poet wants to write in form as opposed to free verse, do it. In this age when pressure mounts to conform and to lose individuality, we owe it to those who came before, to those who gave their lives for the art, to remain true to ourselves, following our own inspiration, no matter what anyone says.

g emil reutter– g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA)

Mohammed al-Ajami – Least He Be Forgotten

Mohammed al-Ajami

As poets gather in April in celebration of National Poetry Month we should remember Mohammed al-Ajami remains in prison in Qatar for writing a poem about the Arab Spring. His sentence was reduced from life to 15 years. He sits in his prison cell while we write and share our poetry. Please visit this link and make use of the contacts to request the poet be freed.

https://foxchasereview.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/senator-casey-weighs-in-on-mohammed-al-ajami/

The poem Tunisian Jasmine poem appears in the link above.

Senator Casey Weighs in on Mohammed al-Ajami plus Senator Tommey and How About Al Gore?

According to the Lawyer representing Mohammed al-Ajami  the sentence was reduced today from life to 15 years in prison for writing and reading a poem. Please contact Senator Casey and Senator Toomey to seek the release of al-Ajami or legislators in your respective states and nations.
Casey
Form letter received from Senator Bob Casey D-Pa
.
Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding Mohammed al-Ajami.  I appreciate hearing from you about this issue.
Mohammed al-Ajami is a Qatari poet who studied literature at Cairo University.  In November 2011 he was arrested for a poem he wrote about the Arab Spring, which contained a verse that state officials claimed insulted the emir of Qatar.  He was charged with attempting to overthrow the government and has been sentenced to life in prison.  Several international human rights organizations have called for his release.  The State Department stated that they are seeking more information on this case and that they “support freedom of expression around the world. It’s a fundamental right. It’s protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” Mohammed al-Ajami’s case is currently under appeal and the appeals court is expected to announce its verdict on February 25th.
As your United States Senator and a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, I have consistently advocated for the protection of human rights around the world.  All governments, particularly those that have made international commitments to uphold human rights standards, should work to protect human rights within their borders.  I believe that the United States must continue to promote respect and tolerance for religious freedom and human rights.  I have supported a variety of measures in furtherance of this goal, including:
·     S. Res. 80, which condemns the Government of Iran for its persecution of the Baha’i minority and its continued violation of international human rights standards;
·     S. Con. Res. 11, which condemns all forms of anti-Semitism, rejects attempts to rationalize anti-Jewish hatred or attacks as a justifiable expression of disaffection over political events in the Middle East or elsewhere, and calls on leaders to speak out against manifestations of anti-Semitism that have entered the Middle East debate;
·     S. Res. 22, which condemns the January 2011 attack on the Coptic Christian community in Alexandria, Egypt, and urges the Government of Egypt to fully investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the attack;
·     S. Res. 322, which expresses the Senate’s concern about the situation of vulnerable religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq, and urges the Government of Iraq to reverse the marginalization of religious minorities and enhance security at places of worship within the country;
·     S. Res. 167, which calls on the Government of the People’s Republic of China to allow freedom of speech and cease intimidation and imprisonment of religious minorities and those who disagree with Chinese government policies.
I have also sent letters to U.S. and foreign government leaders urging the release of human rights and religious freedom activists, including Father Ly in Vietnam and Dr. Fan Yafeng in China.
Finally, I have consistently worked to promote religious freedom and tolerance in Pakistan through meetings with Pakistani government officials, including former Minister of Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, who was assassinated in March 2011.  During my trip to Pakistan in 2011, I personally raised religious freedom issues in meetings with the Minister for National Harmony and with leaders of religious minority communities.  I will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to prioritize religious freedom and improve the safety of religious minorities within its borders.
Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.  Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.
For more information on this or other issues, I encourage you to visit my website, http://casey.senate.gov.  I hope you will find this online office a comprehensive resource to stay up-to-date on my work in Washington, request assistance from my office, or share with me your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you and to Pennsylvania.
Sincerely,
Bob Casey
United States Senator
.
If you would like to contact Senator Casey please use the contact form on his website: http://casey.senate.gov/contact/
.
Senator Toomey
Senator Pat Toomey R-Pa Update

The office of Senator Toomey R-PA contacted our poetry editor Diane Sahms-Guarnieri last week and advised her that the al-Ajami case has been elevated.

If you would like to contact Senator Toomey please use the contact form on his website: http://www.toomey.senate.gov/?p=contact

al-Ajami  Al Gore Al Jazeera

Al Gore twitter image

You can help enlist former Vice-President and friend of Qatar, Al Gore in the effort to release al-Ajami from prison.  Send emails to his marketing firm info@carthagegroup.com

Sample email:

I request you forward this message to Vice President Gore.

Mohammed al-Ajami was imprisoned last November by the government of Qatar for writing and reading a poem concerning the Arab Spring that the Emir found offensive. He was sentenced to life in prison. Yesterday his sentence was reduced to 15 years. The man is not permitted to see his wife and children. All of this for writing and reading a poem. We have contacted legislators who are pursuing the status of the case, that being said it seems to me there is currently no one in the United States better suited to seek a pardon for the poet in Qatar then Al Gore.  The sale of your cable network to Al Jazeera owned by the government of Qatar leaves you in a unique position. Al Jazeera proclaims the right to freedom of speech but has been largely silent on the issue of the imprisoned poet in their own country. I am hopeful this email will reach you and that you can use your influence to free the poet from this injustice. Possibly you can reason with the Emir.

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?

*copied from Code Pink notice

Previous posts on Imprisoned poet Mohammed al-Ajami:

https://foxchasereview.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/senator-toomey-reaches-out-to-state-department-concerning-mohammad-al-ajami/

– g emil reutter

He’s still in prison for writing a…. poem

Mohammed al-Ajami

Mohammed al-Ajami still sits in prison for writing a poem in Qatar. We published our first article on this tragedy on November 30th: https://foxchasereview.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/robes-in-a-bunch-sends-poet-to-prision-for-life/ You can show your support for the poet by emailing the embassy in Washington D.C. as we did, however, I believe the emails go unread. You can also call the embassy and leave a message at  (202) 274-1600 (press 1 four times to leave a message with the ambassador’s office).  Over at Code Pink there is a link to send a letter to the embassy and additional information on Mohammed al-Ajami http://codepink.salsalabs.com/o/424/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=7122

Step up and don’t forget Mohammed al-Ajami