Poetry and Power in Qatar ~ and beyond.

So, you thought poetry was just for fun rhymes and wooing women? Without music poetry is often backhanded as a literary form ignored and disdained as too esoteric or too convoluted for straightforward no nonsense reading.  By the way, if you think Mother Goose nursey rhemes are just silly ditties, you’ll think again after going a few rounds with an annotated copy with the darker references to realities. Oh, speaking of reality.

MIC CHECK

A while back I had an actual face to face conversation with a young woman who insisted no one had never been imprisoned for writing literature. I found her literal ignorance astounding  not only for her lack of awareness of the historical contexts in which writers in all genres have run into very serious trouble for expressing their views, but also for what it revealed about her lack of comprehension of some of the works she’d claimed to have read. Hence, this post. I believe it makes my point in a very very contemporary fashion.

From Democracy Now!’s headline news

15-Year Sentence for Qatari Poet Upheld

Democracy Now! Headline News for 22 October 2013

In Qatar, the top court has upheld a 15-year jail sentence for a poet convicted of incitement against the regime. Mohammed al-Ajami was arrested in November 2011 for allegedly disparaging members of Qatar’s ruling family in a poem. But activists say the real motivation was his poem “Tunisian Jasmine,” in which he expressed support for the Arab Spring uprisings, writing, “We are all Tunisia in the face of repressive elites.” Al-Ajami was initially dealt a life term but that was reduced to 15 years in February. His lawyer said he has been held in solitary confinement for two years. Al-Ajami’s only recourse now is to appeal to the emir. Click here to see our interview from Qatar with Mohammed Al-Ajami’s lawyer.

http://www.democracynow.org/2013/10/22/headlines#102211

Qatari poet Mohamed Ibn Ajami Imprisioned for Life for Reading a Poem 

[“Tunisian Jasmine” audio text]

Published on Feb  9, 2013

February 6, 2013 7:23pm PST
From Democracy Now: “Three days after the United Nations Climate Change Conference began here in Doha, a Qatari court sentenced a local poet to life in prison, a move that shocked many activists in the Gulf region and human rights observers. The sentencing of Mohammad ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami came nearly two years after he wrote a poem titled “Tunisian Jasmine,” supporting the uprisings in the Arab world. “We are all Tunisia in the face of repressive elites!” al-Ajami wrote. “The Arab governments and who rules them are, without exception, thieves. Thieves!” We speak to his attorney and a member of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee.”
http://www.democracynow.org/2012/12/7…
From the Guardian “A Qatari poet has been sentenced to life in prison for an Arab-spring-inspired verse that officials claim insults Qatar’s emir and encourages the overthrow of the nation’s ruling system, his defense attorney says.
It was the latest blow in a widening clampdown on perceived dissent across the Gulf Arab states.
The verdict in a state security court is certain to bring a fresh outpouring of denunciations by rights groups, which have repeatedly called for the release of the poet, Muhammad ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami. It also marks another example of tough measures by judicial and security officials in the Gulf against possible challenges to their rule since the Arab spring revolts began last year.
The poet’s lawyer, Najib al-Nuaimi, said he planned to appeal.
“This judge made the whole trial secret,” said Nuaimi. “Muhammad was not allowed to defend himself, and I was not allowed to plead or defend in court. I told the judge that I need to defend my client in front of an open court, and he stopped me.”
Ajami was jailed in November 2011, months after an internet video was posted of him reciting Tunisian Jasmine, a poem lauding that country’s popular uprising, which touched off the Arab spring rebellions across the Middle East. In the poem, he said: “We are all Tunisia in the face of repressive” authorities, and criticized Arab governments that restrict freedoms.
Qatari officials charged Ajami with “insulting” the Gulf nation’s ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and “inciting to overthrow the ruling system”. The latter charge could have brought a death sentence.
Nuaimi said Ajami, a third-year student of literature at Cairo University, had been held in solitary confinement since his arrest.
Gulf regimes have stepped up crackdowns on a range of perceived threats to their rule, including Islamist groups and social media activists. Earlier this month, Kuwaiti authorities arrested four people on charges of insulting the emir with Twitter posts, and the United Arab Emirates imposed sweeping new internet regulations that allow arrests for a wide list of offensives, including insulting leaders or calling for demonstrations.
Last year, Bahrain issued a royal pardon for some protest-linked suspects, including a 20-year-old woman sentenced to a year in prison for reciting poetry critical of the government’s effort to crush a Shia-led uprising against the Sunni monarchy.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/…

 

I don’t know about you, but this packs a resounding wallop in my book of verses.

Not ready to become extinct? Save Earth, Demand Oceans Without Oil and Clean Energy ASAP.

Earth Day approaches. What does that mean in the United States? Nothing as far as I can tell at this point in time. We are doing absolutely nothing to deal with climate change.  We’re doing almost nothing to protect the natural world we live in. Many are still in denial thanks to the misinformation efforts of the likes of the nefarious Koch Brothers—and their more invisible cohorts.  Think confronting climate change is overwhelming? Then consider the extinction of humans as a result of our own actions.

"Holy Water" @ eva wojcik

 

It’s been one year since BP’s destruction of the Gulf of Mexico environment commenced.  Dolphins, fish, turtles and people continue to sicken and die.  The oil and chemicals used to make it invisible continue to destroy the viability of the water environment. BP continues to do as it pleases and spins its image as best it can. Oil companies posted record PROFITS. Who gave them this profit money? We did. We do every time we purchase gasoline. 

What can each of us do? We can demand clean energy. We can change our own individual lifestyles regarding our energy. Use less oil. Use less gasoline. Conserve, use public transportation, walk, ride bikes instead of buying more SUVs. Oh yes, I see gas guzzlers every time I venture outside. A lot of people clearly don’t give a damn as long as they’ve got the money for gas at the pump. Get informed, get educated about the need for a healthy Earth for every living thing.   

Our government clearly does not give a damn about the Earth. Corporations clearly do not take any responsibility for their polluting actions that destroy the environment.

Do we care? Do we?  

I do not want any offshore drilling here.

"touching" @ eva wojcik

It’s time to think of doing things other than “Drill, baby, drill.” It’s time to CHANGE—and we’ve got to do it. No one else will. Follow Tim DeChristopher’s example and don’t wait for someone else to appear and lead. No one is coming. It’s up to us. Every single one of us, because we all live on the same Earth.  It’s time to take responsibility any and every way we each  can. It’s time to confront the reality of the destruction of our environment no matter how much it “hurts.” Adapt, change, transform or die.  Earth’s day is every day.
 
For extensive coverage of BP, the Gulf of Mexico, and offshore drilling visit

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