Manama: A Qatari poet who had been sentenced to life in prison for insulting the Emir and encouraging the overthrow of the nation’s ruling system has been released.
Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Dheeb Al Ajami was arrested in Doha on November 16, 2011 after a poem he recited in August in the Egyptian capital Cairo where he was studying was posted on social media.
Mohammad, popularly known as Ibn Al Dheeb, recited the poem to a group of people, but he was reportedly unaware that he was recorded and that the recitation would be uploaded on You Tube.
In the poem, Ibn Al Dheeb praised the Tunisian movement that toppled the regime in January and said that he looked forward to the same thing happening in countries where ignorant rules believed that glory was in US military might. He also hoped changes would reach countries where the ruling is hereditary.
The lines were seen as a reference to Qatar, home to the largest US air base in the Middle East, and its political regime.
Qatari officials charged him with insulting the then ruler, Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, and inciting to overthrow the ruling system.
Ibn Al Dheeb was sentenced to life in prison on November 29, 2012. The sentence was appealed and the court reduced it to 15 years in February. The Cassation Court in November upheld the verdict.
Reports in Doha late on Tuesday said that the Emir Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani who came to power in June 2013 pardoned Ibn Al Dheeb following the intercession of Khalid Bin Rakan Al Ajami, the chief of the tribe of which the poet is a member.
News of his release triggered both cheerfulness and sadness within the Qatari blogosphere.
While most online users saw it as a positive gesture that allowed the poet to be free, some said that he should have been kept behind bars for “recklessness and insolence.”