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Friday, February 26, 2021

Qatari poet Ibn Al-Dheeb granted appeal, arguments set for Jan. 27

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With reporting from Layal Itawi

A Qatari court has granted an appeal for Mohammed Rashid al-Ajami, the poet sentenced to life in jail for attempting to overthrow the government, and set Jan. 27 as the date for arguments.

The Qatari national, who goes by the poetic name Mohammed Ibn Al-Dheeb, appeared at the Court of Appeals this morning in a blue prison outfit, surrounded by 10 armed Internal Security Force soldiers.

Court proceedings were short as his lawyer, Najeeb al-Nuaimi, presented a document of the irregularities during Al-Dheeb’s initial trial and asked for his client to be released on bail. Although the case was schedule to be the 10th heard this morning, the judge pushed it up to first due to the high security.

Three of Al Dheeb’s brothers were in attendance, and told Doha News that he was not guilty of the charges.

Private recitation

The lawyer Al-Nuaimi said that, despite the long list or irregularities in the initial trial, the biggest issue is the fact that Ibn Al Dheeb did not present his poem in public, which is a requirement for proving he “sought to overthrow the regime.”

While studying Arabic literature with a group of students in Cairo on Aug. 24, 2010, Al Dheeb was reportedly approached by another Qatari poet named Khalil al-Shabrami. His lawyer argues that Al-Shabrami provoked Al Dheeb into presenting a poem that was indirectly critical of the ruling family, and the exchange was secretly recorded. 

That poem was then uploaded to YouTube, and spread on Twitter and Facebook.

“He doesn’t know how to use the [Internet], so he was not the one who released it,” Al-Nuaimi said. “Somebody was sitting there and released it. He mentioned to me, Mohammed, that it’s not the first time they secretly released it.”

A poem released about Tunisia and the Arab Spring has also been highlighted as contributing to Al Dheeb’s arrest in Nov. 2011, in which he criticizes Arab rulers by saying “we are all Tunisia in the face of the repressive elite.”

Credit: Photo courtesy of Lex Paulson

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